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March 26, 2007

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shorter Ugh: I had no point.

Well, if we go down that path, maybe the Committee should also call Bush, to get his take on pardons.

CaseyL: now that would be interesting. "Mr President, do you or do you not intend to pardon Lewis Libby, if his appeal fails?"

I believe Bush's appropriate response would be: "And I would-my position would be that their cases should be handled like others, they should go through-there's a regular process for that, and I have regular meetings on that, and I review those cases as they come up after there's an evaluation done by the Justice Department. And that's how I think it should be handled."

I'm sure you're right that would be an appropriate response. I just wonder if Bush would opt for something more ambiguous so that he couldn't be called out for lying after he pardoned Libby in early January 2009, or if he just didn't care what anyone said about him after he left office, so long as damaging witnesses were kept happy.

I'd want to know if Bush is going to offer his crew of thieves, liars and traitors the kind of pardon Nixon got: a blanket pardon that prevents any future charges from being brought against them.

I believe Bush's appropriate response would be: "And I would-my position would be that their cases should be handled like others, they should go through-there's a regular process for that, and I have regular meetings on that, and I review those cases as they come up after there's an evaluation done by the Justice Department. And that's how I think it should be handled."

Now that, is a good riposte (I can read it in both the stuttering Bush and the smooth - or not so smooth in this case - Clinton style).

the latter being the actual case, of course.

Sebastian:

The Susan McDougal pardon anyone? If there is a Libby pardon, it will be an exact counterpart to the McDougal pardon. (And remember that McDougal's testimony wasn't supposed to be about a blowjob, it was about financial corruption.)

Covered above, but McDougal's was clearly not like Libby should he receive a pardon. McDougal completed her prison term in 1998, and was pardoned for that crime in 2001. The Whitewater deal was already concluded at the time the pardon was given with no prospect of being reopened. McDougal had made it clear that she had no testimony to offer helpful to the a potential charge against Clinton. There is no conceivable parallel.

I believe Bush's appropriate response would be: "And I would-my position would be that their cases should be handled like others, they should go through-there's a regular process for that, and I have regular meetings on that, and I review those cases as they come up after there's an evaluation done by the Justice Department. And that's how I think it should be handled."

Yes, that would be the appropriate response. But what would the stupid response be?

I believe Bush's appropriate response would be: "And I would-my position would be that their cases should be handled like others, they should go through-there's a regular process for that, and I have regular meetings on that, and I review those cases as they come up after there's an evaluation done by the Justice Department. And that's how I think it should be handled."

Yes, that would be the appropriate response. But what would the stupid (i.e., Bush's actual) response be?

a blanket pardon that prevents any future charges from being brought against them.

Was it ever decided by, say, the Supreme Court whether such a pardon was Constitutional? It seems obvious to me that it's not but there's a reason IANAL...

Yes, that would be the appropriate response. But what would the stupid (i.e., Bush's actual) response be?

The same, but with giggling once the press was gone.

But what would the stupid response be?

Bush: "Who cares what you think?"

Bush: "I leave it to a higher father to respond to that, since my biological father is obviously being influenced by unnamed Democrat Democrats."

Bush: "We have received credible evidence that Al Qaeda is planning attacks on the U.S. Mainland."

Bush: I am the decider and I've decided all condoms should be confiscated and quilted into a gigantic tent, to be placed over the U.S. Capital until January 2009. Abstinence for thee, protection for me."

Bush: "Surges abroad, purges at home. I love me a good rhyme."

Bush: "Switchgrass!"

Sorry, I was wrong: it'll be the same, but with added dickishness.

Ugh (name and exclamation, in this case), Lamar Smith is the one who torpedoed the DC voting rights bill by trying to add an amendment to repeal DC's gun laws.

I got to talk to Eleanor Holmes Norton for a few minutes tonight at a DNC reception. She says the Democratic leadership will be bringing the bill back soon. She also seems happy with her ability to handle Stephen Colbert, despite Rahm Emanuel's advising Democrats not to go on the show (though going on Fox is just fine).

I volunteered at the Women's Legal Defense Fund back in 1981, helping the attorneys there prepare for hearings in front of Orring Hatch's committee on sexual harassment. I met Eleanor as part of that process and was most impressed. It was quite a hearing w/ Phyllis Schlafly testifying that "when a woman walks into a room she walks with a universal body language...." or something similar that elicited hisses from many in the audience and a quick retort from Hatch that he would eject any caught doing that again from the hearing room. Little did we know that it was just the start.

Her refusal to testify as Starr wanted her to was to protect Clinton; her refusal to testify at all was to protect herself.

Whatever the real reason for Susan McDougal's conduct, it can't have been the idiotic explanation that so many folks here are giving. It makes no sense. "I'm afraid that if I tell the truth, a prosecutor will cook up a completely spurious perjury charge against me; therefore I'll willingly spend more time in jail than would have been the case for an actual perjury conviction."

It'd be impossible if (a) she knew how long she was going to be imprisoned for on the front end, and (b) if the length of imprisonment was the only issue. Given that neither of those was the case, not so much impossible.

OK, even putting aside the prison terms, the explanation still doesn't make any logical sense. "I'm afraid that if I tell the truth, a prosecutor will cook up a completely spurious perjury charge against me."

Occam's razor, folks. There's never been another case in American history where a truth-telling witness was supposedly THAT afraid of a perjury conviction. Thus, if she was afraid of a perjury conviction, it's probably because she wanted to say something that really was perjurious.

John Doe: Whatever the real reason for Susan McDougal's conduct, it can't have been the idiotic explanation that so many folks here are giving. It makes no sense.

Actually, that's the explanation Susan McDougal herself gave:

McDougal has called the trial a "personal vendetta" by Starr. She has already served 18 months for civil contempt for refusing to answer grand jury questions about the Clintons.

She has said she refused to answer questions because she believes Starr would twist her words to suit his purposes and may charge her with perjury if he doesn't get the testimony he wants. link

And while you may now assert that it's an "idiotic explanation" for her to say she refused to testify because she was afraid that the independent prosecutor would twist her words and change her with perjury, you asserted on this thread yesterday at at 10:14 AM that this was a perfectly sensible reason why witnesses who could have exculpated the Bush administration might not have come forward to testify in October 2003.

The difference is, we have testimony directly from Susan McDougal's mouth that this is why she refused to testify before Starr. But you don't even know for sure that these hypothetical witnesses even exist - you were simply putting forward what you now say is an "idiotic explanation" that "makes no sense" to explain why none of these witnesses have come forward to testify.

This is idiotic and makes no sense. Unless you're not John Doe, but... Richard Roe!

OK, even putting aside the prison terms, the explanation still doesn't make any logical sense. "I'm afraid that if I tell the truth, a prosecutor will cook up a completely spurious perjury charge against me."

amusingly, that's exactly what Monica Goodling (or, her lawyer) has claimed as one of her reasons for taking the 5th in the USA/DOJ issue.

spin!

John Doe must really be upset at Monica Goodling right now...

How is it that with the current utterly-corrupt administration under investigation, we're spending so much time hashing out the problems of previous administrations?

Clinton got caught and punished. Now it's time to catch and impeach Bush. Let's do a better job of it this time.

How is it that with the current utterly-corrupt administration under investigation, we're spending so much time hashing out the problems of previous administrations?

that's due to Tim F’s Second Law of Interchat:

    as online discussions of Republican transgressions lengthen the probability of an attempted Clinton Did It! distraction approaches one.

"She has said she refused to answer questions because she believes Starr would twist her words to suit his purposes"

Note that is the FIRST complaint, not the perjury issue. Suggesting that her testimony would be something that was awfully close to (something that could be spun into) something damaging to Clinton. Protecting Clinton was the first concern. That paid off well.

Fwiw, I saw Susan McDougall about a year ago on CSPAN, at a reading of some part of her book. It was mostly about religion, and was incredibly moving, in that regard. But someone asked her about this, and (iirc) she said that at a certain point, after some attempts to -- well, 'cooperate' is the wrong word, since it has a legal meaning, but to do her part as a citizen -- and a lot of evidence that what was going on was an attempt to find anything at all that could be used against the Clintons, she just woke up one morning, afraid, and feeling way, way out of her depth in the face of what seemed like a hostile and incomprehensible legal machinery and thought: I'm not going to say anything. Period.

I found this quite plausible as an explanation of how a non-lawyer might feel when confronted by Ken Starr et al, fwiw.

I would bet no money on the claim that there aren't enough precedents for witnesses threatened with perjury charges (or worse) for not lying in favor of the prosecution in US history. Not even necessary to go back to the days of Tailgunner Joe, just look at police/justice corruption in a number of US states. There should be tons of examples.
I have no opinion of the case in question here but I would not be surprised, if Starr has used such methods.

Seb: " Suggesting that her testimony would be something that was awfully close to (something that could be spun into) something damaging to Clinton."

The sentence (without the parenthetic clause) has no connection to the parenthetic clause.

The fact that something can be spun into a negative does not mean the thing itself is in any way close to being a negative.

John, the sentence has almost the same meaning without the parenthetic clause.

" Suggesting that her testimony would be something that was awfully close to something damaging to Clinton."

Something that damages him with spin etc.

Without the parenthetical there's the possibility that the meaning is something that damages him by exposure of crimes he did. But that's only one way the damage might go.

And while you may now assert that it's an "idiotic explanation" for her to say she refused to testify because she was afraid that the independent prosecutor would twist her words and change her with perjury, you asserted on this thread yesterday at at 10:14 AM that this was a perfectly sensible reason why witnesses who could have exculpated the Bush administration might not have come forward to testify in October 2003.

Are you really unable to see the difference between the two situations?

1. A witness voluntarily goes to jail for 18 months because she's supposedly afraid of a perjury charge for telling the truth.

2. A private citizen or journalist doesn't volunteer his or her story to all the world, not wanting to get involved in a public scandal in any way or form.

Yes, 1 is idiotic. It's just incomprehensible that someone would willingly go to jail as a way of avoiding a hypothetical risk of going to jail. 2 is not idiotic, as it does not involve anyone going to jail.

Sebastian, it would be interesting to see you analyse the Susan MacDougall situation vis-a-vis the Monica goodling situation.

J Thomas, I stated myself poorly. Seb's suggestion, if I understood him correctly, was that since McDougall thought her testimony could be spun into something negative, then her testimony itself must come close to damaging Clinton. One does not follow from the other.

"It's just incomprehensible that someone would willingly go to jail as a way of avoiding a hypothetical risk of going to jail."

Obviously, you don't have much of an imagination or seem to see only one thing.

A conviction on a perjury charge carries with it more than just jail time. It says to the world that you are a liar and not to be trusted. And particularly if you believe that your words could be used against their original intent to harm someone for something they didn't do.

This thread proves that Bush, Rove, and Gonzalez read the market correctly when they replaced the Federal prosecutor in Arkansas with the handpicked oppo research smear merchant.

The only way folks are going to forget about the Clinton sins is if Hillary flys a couple of planes into some large buildings in Manhatten and then disappears into the Pakistani hinterlands.

THAT they'll forget! Except as an excuse to invade Thailand and eliminate corporate taxes.

If Hillary is elected, expect a seamless resumption of the anti-Clinton clusterf***.

I hope Obama wins. It'll take the usual suspects at least two weeks to interrupt the business of governing to gin up some stories about his wife decorating the White House Christmas tree with butt plugs and off we go again.

I don't care what Susan McDougall did or did not do. But she was savvy enough to look around and see what was going on. And it wasn't concern for the rule of law or probity in government that she recognized in the eyes of her accusers.

It was a desire to ruin a political party and seize a government by any means so that it could be ruined, stolen, and subverted.

Good for her.

She knew Bill Clinton could govern better than this sorry lot were he to be placed in a dungeon and in leg irons, and provided with a rotary phone.

So this is it, huh? This is what all the crap in the last eight years of the 20th Century was all about? To put Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez, Rumsfeld, Delay, Cunningham, Norquist, Abramoff and the rest of the incompetent, thieving, lying garbage in power.

This is all you've* got?

Heck, after all of the moral lectures and self-righteous outrage we endured, I was half afraid you guys* would elect Abraham Lincoln again. Then were would we be?

*I refer, of course, to a large group of people across the electorate and the Internets who can't get over it. Any resemblance to anyone on this thread is solely a figment of my imagination.

Note: I'm writing in Susan McDougall for President 2008! She's my hero.

Occam's razor, folks. There's never been another case in American history where a truth-telling witness was supposedly THAT afraid of a perjury conviction. Thus, if she was afraid of a perjury conviction, it's probably because she wanted to say something that really was perjurious.

This ignores the fact that she did testify, and her testimony was exculpatory- but only *after* Starr was effectively crippled by the failed impeachment. If she committed obvious perjury then, surely Starr would've charged her. That is, if he had solid evidence to the contrary.
Im not sure Whose Razor it is when your explanation fails to account for known contradictory facts, but there's got to be a Razor out there for this sort of situation. Maybe Schick sells one you could use.

[Also, are you so ignorant of American history that you believe that innocents haven't been imprisoned by overzealous prosecutors?]
[Finally, mindreading foul. You neither know the actual truth-value of historical witnesses' statements nor their level of fear.]

That paid off well.

Seb, are you still implying that McDougal got something out of the deal other than jail time? That there was some quid pro quo? Because that's an indefensible load of crap. You can argue that McDougal protected Clinton out of a sense of loyalty & that she had something on him she refused to reveal, but if you want to argue (or just underhandedly imply) quid pro quo you need to explicitly state what McDougal was supposed to be receiving for her silence.

Now, for the idea that Starr had real evidence that she would've been perjuring herself- that would imply that Starr had evidence that Clinton pressured Hale into giving the $300k loan (or, evidence that McDougal knew about it). Now, some of this evidence might have been considered hearsay for a direct challenge to Clinton's statement (eg a statement by a McDougal associate that she discussed the deal), but it strains credibility to suggest that such evidence wouldn't have found its way into the public ear. And nothing would've stopped Starr from using such evidence even after the impeachment.
Ergo, using Wu's Schick Quattro Disposable Razor (I use whichever Razor is handy), we know that such evidence did not exist. Starr might have been willing to use Hale, though, in a he-said, she-said perjury case. It would be weak- but then, so was his referral to the House.

What the hell does this have to do with what's going on NOW?

Is the handling of the attorneys acceptable or not?

What the hell does this have to do with what's going on NOW?

Ahh...you haven't seen "Thanks for Smoking", have you?

The lesson of that film with regards to political debate was that it's better to change the subject (thereby to dominate the dialog) than to stand on the merits of your case if its wobbly. In other words, talking about Clinton, et al. is a tactic employed to avoid talking about Gonzales, et al.

A conviction on a perjury charge carries with it more than just jail time. It says to the world that you are a liar and not to be trusted.

I'm reminded of Billy Martin's comment about Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner

"They're made for each other. One's a born liar, the other's convicted."

*nods*

Edward_'s right. Just as normally one only has to point out that it's slimy for a White House official to blow the cover of a covert CIA agent for political spite, to have someone claim that it was justified because her husband wrote an op-ed for the NYT, and then start in on the spin claiming that her husband lied anyway. Anything other than discuss straightforward issues in which their guy is straightforwardly in the wrong.

Yes, 1 is idiotic. It's just incomprehensible that someone would willingly go to jail as a way of avoiding a hypothetical risk of going to jail.

So, I guess nobody has ever pleaded "No Contest" to a charge they felt they were not guilty of but would probably be convicted of? Ever? Really?

CaseyL: "Sebastian, it would be interesting to see you analyse the Susan MacDougal situation vis-a-vis the Monica goodling situation."

Sure. That is easy. Neither of them had/have a defensible reason not to testify. Both are using the same "the situation is too political to get a fair hearing so I'll make things worse by not telling the truth when subpoened" excuse and in both cases they are wrong. Goodling puts a slightly different spin on it by taking the 5th in a novel way, but when Congress gives her immunity (which there is no reason not to, since what are the chances that she was the 'decider' of anything she might testify to?) that excuse goes away and we are left with the same garbage that Susan McDougal was raising.

I think the other side presented in these comments is much harder to defend: that it is remotely defensible to play the "afraid of unfair perjury" card in the highly politicized Clinton case but that it is not so in the highly politicized Bush case. That begins to look a lot more like an anti-rule-of-law 'different rules for candidates I like than for those I detest' standard. And remember that the McDougal case is NOT about a BJ, but rather about bribery and corruption.

Carleton Wu: "Seb, are you still implying that McDougal got something out of the deal other than jail time? That there was some quid pro quo? Because that's an indefensible load of crap. You can argue that McDougal protected Clinton out of a sense of loyalty & that she had something on him she refused to reveal, but if you want to argue (or just underhandedly imply) quid pro quo you need to explicitly state what McDougal was supposed to be receiving for her silence."

No implication, I'm stating it. She got a left-wing martyr book deal and a presidential pardon. She was convicted of defrauding the government, and got to spin that into something positive in many circles. Surely you are aware of at least the pardon?

This ignores the fact that she did testify, and her testimony was exculpatory- but only *after* Starr was effectively crippled by the failed impeachment. If she committed obvious perjury then, surely Starr would've charged her. That is, if he had solid evidence to the contrary.

...

Now, for the idea that Starr had real evidence that she would've been perjuring herself- that would imply that Starr had evidence that Clinton pressured Hale into giving the $300k loan (or, evidence that McDougal knew about it). Now, some of this evidence might have been considered hearsay for a direct challenge to Clinton's statement (eg a statement by a McDougal associate that she discussed the deal), but it strains credibility to suggest that such evidence wouldn't have found its way into the public ear. And nothing would've stopped Starr from using such evidence even after the impeachment.

Sure. Which doesn't mean that she testified truthfully, it means that the fear of a perjury charge was always ridiculous. Your 'crippled' Star trope cuts either way though. Once all the evidence was out on display, it may have become clear that she could perjure herself with impunity. That fits the facts at least as well (and in my opinon much better) for a situation where someone pulls as much actual jail time avoiding a perjury charge as the sentencing guidelines would hit her with for perjury if she hypothetically were convicted of it.

"A conviction on a perjury charge carries with it more than just jail time. It says to the world that you are a liar and not to be trusted."

That is silly in McDougal's case. She had already been convicted of fraud. She was already a liar who is not to be trusted.

Now back to Goodling. Congress should offer her immunity to defeat the 5th Amendment problem (such as it is, which I really think it isn't) and then throw her in jail if she doesn't testify. I really don't think it is that complicated.

My position is that you don't have a right to obstruct an investigation by refusing to testify just because you think that the investigator will misuse your testimony. That just isn't legitimate if your name is McDougal and it isn't legitimate if your name is Goodling.

Sebastian, one of the most famous lawyers of history, Sir Thomas More, said that "no law in the world can punish any man for his silence."

Of course, this was 572 years ago, nearly. And September 11 changed everything.

"The lesson of that film with regards to political debate was that it's better to change the subject (thereby to dominate the dialog) than to stand on the merits of your case if its wobbly. In other words, talking about Clinton, et al. is a tactic employed to avoid talking about Gonzales, et al. "

Except I've made my position on Goodling very clear.

It is just amazing to me to watch the pirouette performed by so many people in these comments as we seamlessly transition from McDougal to finding out halfway in the thread about the Goodling position.

I raised McDougal as a parallel to Libby. Many of you didn't think it was a good parallel for various reasons--and one of the biggest was the unreasonable "fear of perjury" because the investigation is politically charged defense. And then I couldn't have written it better if I were making a novel--the news breaks of a Bush staff member making the same stupid excuse. And I'm still the one getting piled on for being unreasonable.

It makes me sad about the possibility of reasoned discussion, even here.

No implication, I'm stating it. She got a left-wing martyr book deal and a presidential pardon. She was convicted of defrauding the government, and got to spin that into something positive in many circles. Surely you are aware of at least the pardon?

Yeah, she got a retroactive pardon. That is, she had already served the time for the crime. Since we were already discussing the pardon, I could hardly no be aware of it- surely you're aware of that?
It's just that a pardon for a crime when you've already served the time is not that great of a benefit. You're willing to say that a perjury conviction couldn't mean anything to her bc she was convicted of fraud, but suddenly she thirsts for the pardon (by a close friend) that will 'clear' her name?
Why is the one is irrelevant to her but the other worth 2 years in prison? Because you need those two points to make your argument, regardless of how they obviously conflict.

So, you've got a theory. It's based on some contradictions, some mindreading (did she really want a book deal that badly?), etc. It could explain events. But other theories explain events without the bizarre stretches- yet you reject those, because they don't implicate The Clenis.

Once all the evidence was out on display, it may have become clear that she could perjure herself with impunity.

So, Starr mislead her about what evidence he had (in your theory), and she felt she couldn't lie with impunity. It is so ridiculously far from that theory to the theory where Starr misled her about what he had- and that this fictional evidence contradicted the truth, rather than supporting it?
They are virtually the same situation- yet you find one "fits the facts" and the other so unreasonable that you can't even bring yourself to discuss it.

It makes me sad about the possibility of reasoned discussion, even here.

Id sad for you too. Hopefully, you'll stop feeling that the only possible explanation for events is that which is satisfying to you, and reasoned discussion will yield fruit again.

uh, Jesurgislac: Sir Thomas More lost his life because of his silence.

I know too much about the persecution of Julie Hiatt Steele and others to believe that Susan McDougle had nothing to fear, sorry.

What the Dems are up to is typical partisan politics coupled with a legitimate issue deserving of investigation by Congress. You can't compare it in any way, shape or form with Ken Starr's unmoored crusade.

Now back to Goodling. Congress should offer her immunity to defeat the 5th Amendment problem (such as it is, which I really think it isn't) and then throw her in jail if she doesn't testify. I really don't think it is that complicated.

Once she has immunity, she's free to take as much of the blame as she possibly can given the evidence- shielding other wrongdoers and claiming to have acted alone, misled them into agreeing, etc.
Of course, that would be very useful to the GOP, wouldn't it?

Maybe more complicated than you thought.

"So, Starr mislead her about what evidence he had (in your theory), and she felt she couldn't lie with impunity. It is so ridiculously far from that theory to the theory where Starr misled her about what he had- and that this fictional evidence contradicted the truth, rather than supporting it?"

Huh, why in the world would Starr be required to mislead her at all? He didn't have to tell her what he had on Clinton. He almost certainly wouldn't tell her what he had on Clinton. It is completely normal practice not to reveal your case against someone to a witness in that case. So she almost certainly had no real idea what Starr knew at the time of her stint in jail. Suddenly, when she does know, she is willing to testify. That certainly does not point more to your case than mine.

"Id sad for you too. Hopefully, you'll stop feeling that the only possible explanation for events is that which is satisfying to you, and reasoned discussion will yield fruit again."

Did you read the 'pirouette' part of that comment or do you for some reason believe that your comment addresses that? You are attacking a point that isn't even part of that. I realize it can be difficult to track two whole threads of conversation on one comment section, but you might at least try before becoming snotty.

Steve- thanks, Id forgotten about Steele. She was indicted for failing to tell Starr what he wanted to hear, despite Starr's lack of evidence that she was lying. She lost her job, the legality of her adoption of her son was threatened, and she lost her life savings defending herself.
So claims that Starr couldn't possibly have indicted and gone to trial with flimsy evidence of perjury is not just unproven, it's demonstrably untrue.

"Once she has immunity, she's free to take as much of the blame as she possibly can given the evidence- shielding other wrongdoers and claiming to have acted alone, misled them into agreeing, etc."

If she was making high level decisions, that would be a damning indictment of the administration in itself.

Furthermore the firings are almost certainly not ILLEGAL, they really do serve at the pleasure of the president. The hearing is about almost certainly LEGAL actions that have really bad political implications. So 'taking the blame' doesn't really help in that sense.

Starr had nothing on Clinton. Starr's key witness was David Hale; unfortunately for Starr, Hale's credibility was nonexistent given his history of bilking the SBA and using his municipal judgeship as a private ATM. And Starr and his team knew Hale's testimony wouldn't stand up on its own.

Starr needed corroboration of Hale's tale from the McDougles.

Starr was trying to fabricate a case from circumstances he knew were very likely false.

OTOH, we have a case where the AG has been less than truthful regarding his participation in the attorney purge. Email from Ms Goodling appears to corroborate this.


Sir Thomas More lost his life because of his silence.

Yes. He was living at a time when the balance of powers in England, between the Church and the King, had shifted, and the monarch had taken to himself the unchecked right to rule at his own pleasure without constraint.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"So, Starr mislead her about what evidence he had (in your theory), and she felt she couldn't lie with impunity. It is so ridiculously far from that theory to the theory where Starr misled her about what he had- and that this fictional evidence contradicted the truth, rather than supporting it?"

Huh, why in the world would Starr be required to mislead her at all? He didn't have to tell her what he had on Clinton.

What evidence Starr had against *her*. We're talking about whether or not Starr could build a perjury case against *her*.
In order for *her* to be worried about what evidence Starr had against *her*, and then (according to you) Once all the evidence was out on display, it may have become clear that she could perjure herself with impunity *she* became free to perjure *herself* because *she* knew that Starr didn't have any evidence that could impeach *her* testimony.

On the one hand, you want to talk about how Starr's evidence was then "on display". You want to talk about how she might have thought her lies could be exposed in 1998, but by 1999 realized that she was safe to lie.
But when confronted with the mirror-image scenario (where she's confronted with false or misleading evidence and afraid to tell the truth, but finds out by 1999 that this evidence doesn't exist), you suddenly get all confused and muddled. Weren't we talking about Clinton? Huh?
I mean, this was *your theory* (ie that Starr's evidence was revealed, as quoted above), and now you're confused about it?

I realize it can be difficult to track two whole threads of conversation on one comment section, but you might at least try before becoming snotty.

Im just pointing out that your behaving childishly. I don't need to avoid quoting your tantrum just bc it was in reference to something else.
No, it's not confusing- for someone who can't keep track of the subject of the conversation (eg above), you spend a lot of time in vain attempts to belittle others intelligence. Spend more time on your argumentation, it could use some work.

Just to be clear, Im not saying that your scenario is *impossible*, just that it clearly isn't the only scenario. In fact, it's easy to produce a scenario that is very similar- but where Wiley is telling the truth (ie in both cases she's concerned that Starr has evidence contrary to her desired testimony; in one case, the evidence is false or misleading).
That's not the only other alternative scenario, but I actually find it more persuasive than yours bc:
-you hold that Wiley doesn't care about the perjury conviction, but does care a great deal about clearing her name of the fraud conviction.
-you hold that Wiley doesn't really care about serving several years in prison, including quite a bit of time in solitary
-you hold that Wiley values publicity above serving time in prison
-you hold that Wiley was uncertain whether Starr could impeach her testimony in 1998 but knew in 1999. But evidence impeaching McDougal (eg a witness who would say she told them about Clinton pressuring Hale) might not have been admissible against Clinton (hearsay), but might still have been admissible against McDougal if she had given a statement under oath. So this (hypothetical) witness wouldn't necessarily have come to light in Clinton's impeachment.
-Steele's case makes it clear that Starr was willing to pursue an unwinnable perjury case to penalize an uncooperative witness.
-McDougal can only prefer the perjury risk to the contempt risk (given equal jail time) if she knows in advance that she'll serve the full time. This is clearly not the case, so arguments that choosing silence was illogical are faulty.

Point is, you're sticking to one story, despite its flaws, and denying the possibility of the other stories. And I don't see any factual basis for the preference. You don't even seem *interested* in making a factual basis for the preference.

If she was making high level decisions, that would be a damning indictment of the administration in itself.

She can claim to have misled her superiors, etc. I said that already. That wouldn't make her the decider.

Furthermore the firings are almost certainly not ILLEGAL, they really do serve at the pleasure of the president. The hearing is about almost certainly LEGAL actions that have really bad political implications. So 'taking the blame' doesn't really help in that sense.

Lying to congress is illegal. Obstruction of justice is illegal (not saying we're there yet, but there's much yet to be uncovered). So there's obviously the possibility of illegal activity.

Besides which, who said that her blame-taking would be entirely of the legal variety? She could soak up any lying and obstruction counts while simultaneously taking a lot of the political blame, once she's got immunity. Im sure there'd be a nice private-sector job for her when she was done.
Now, Im not saying that the existing evidence will allow her to do any of that. Im just saying that granting her immunity at this point is foolishness- we need to understand the matter well before even thinking about doing something like that. And we'd want to choose our grants of immunity carefully, not dole them out to the first person who reaches the stand.

Even if "Clinton did it" were true, which it aint, it wouldn't excuse the Republican's current obstrution of justice, which contra Slarti is still a crime.

Sebastian:

I am still trying to follow your logic re McDougal, and still can't find it.

If self-interest was her sole motive, then she could have gone the way of her ex-husband, and tell Starr whatever he wanted to hear. And she could still get her book deal (from Regerny) and be a hero -- just to the other side of the aisle.

Her testimony and comments was always the same -- Clinton did nothing wrong. She feared being charged with perjury if she testified that way to the grand jury -- Starr did it to Steele, so it was a real fear. She would have been better of telling her story anyway, and she ended up spending a lot of time in prison because she would not talk. But she got no benefit from Clinton, and could have reaped benefits by turning on him. The pardon was after-the-fact -- and the pardon was hardly necessary to set her up for a book deal. To the extent she is a "left-wing hero" (she isn't -- just another Starr victim), she earned that credential by standing up to Starr. Clinton's pardon did not do it.

There is no parallel.

Goodling is not faced with a biased prosecutor like Starr, and has no legitimate reason to fear giving truthful testimony. She just does not want to get involved, which is understandable but not a legal option unless there is actual grounds that she might incriminate herself, which seems unlikely.

I raised McDougal as a parallel to Libby. Many of you didn't think it was a good parallel for various reasons--and one of the biggest was the unreasonable "fear of perjury" because the investigation is politically charged defense. And then I couldn't have written it better if I were making a novel--the news breaks of a Bush staff member making the same stupid excuse.

McDougal didn't plead the 5th. She went to jail for contempt. Surely you are aware of this?
If Goodling wants to fall on her sword and go to jail rather than speak, I can't say that I'd endorse it- but at least the situations would be somewhat parallel.
(Except insofar as Starr has a record of prosecuting people for perjury on ridiculous evidence; the US Congress has no such record that I am aware of. It will add to the parallelism later if Goodling testifies that she did nothing wrong and there's no evidence that she's lying.)

Here's a question for the lawyers though- can a Presidential pardon excuse someone for ongoing contempt of Congress? Since the Congress has the "inherent power to punish for contempt" (In re Chapman, 166 U.S. 661, 671 -672 (1897)), not clear who wins.

"Point is, you're sticking to one story, despite its flaws, and denying the possibility of the other stories. And I don't see any factual basis for the preference. You don't even seem *interested* in making a factual basis for the preference."

Except I'm not. I have a preference for my story (mainly because it is deeply stupid to spend as much time in jail for contempt as you would for perjury) but I'm not saying that it is certain to be true. I'm saying that the pardon cases are parallel in one way (If Libby gets pardoned) in that the President pardoned a low level player in a legal/political attack against the President. The defense of McDougal in these comments ended up boiling down directly into the same defense that Goodling is now using. This is a great test case the McDougal argument. IF you believe the McDougal excuse is ok, attacking Goodling for the same excuse is at least problematized. I'm sure you can pull it off with enough contortions, but it should be at least problematized. It apparently isn't, which I wish I could say were unsurprising.

What evidence Starr had against *her*. We're talking about whether or not Starr could build a perjury case against *her*.
In order for *her* to be worried about what evidence Starr had against *her*, and then (according to you) Once all the evidence was out on display, it may have become clear that she could perjure herself with impunity *she* became free to perjure *herself* because *she* knew that Starr didn't have any evidence that could impeach *her* testimony.

On the one hand, you want to talk about how Starr's evidence was then "on display". You want to talk about how she might have thought her lies could be exposed in 1998, but by 1999 realized that she was safe to lie.
But when confronted with the mirror-image scenario (where she's confronted with false or misleading evidence and afraid to tell the truth, but finds out by 1999 that this evidence doesn't exist), you suddenly get all confused and muddled. Weren't we talking about Clinton? Huh?

I see you are having trouble here, but I honestly don't see why.

A)McDougal refuses to testify. Allegedly because she is afraid her testimony will be contradicted forcefully enough to SUCCESSFULLY hit her with a perjury charge. Since the testimony will be about Clinton, this hypothetical evidence that McDougal is worried about must be something about Clinton. She clearly doesn't have access to all of Starr's evidence about Clinton--nor should she have access to such evidence. Her testimony is supposed to be merely truthful. She isn't entitled to know how it fits together with other evidence before she testifies. This is extremely typical, because you don't want the testimony colored by other things and if they make things up, you don't want them to know you might catch their lies.

B) The impeachment happens, and Starr's evidence is out for the public to see.

C) NOW, McDougal testifies.

YOU claim this shows (or strongly suggests) that she is now testifying truthfully. I say that at a very minimum it is equally plausible that once she has seen the evidence available, she knows she won't be caught in a lie.

In any event, it is an illegitimate attack on the truth-finding ability of the legal process to defend witnesses from their responsibility to tell the truth by appealing to the hairy political situation and worrying about perjury. It is wrong when McDougal does it and it is wrong now. For purposes of depressing arguments, it is amazing to see how easily (and without any apparent appreciation for the logical difficulty of the situation) we dance from the one situation to the other.

didn't mean to pile on Seb, but we've seen far too often the issue at hand during Bush's reign get brushed aside as business as usual because of some supposed parallel with what Clinton did.

The more I think about the US attorne scandal (i.e., the timing of how nearly 10% of the lot of them were dismissed just after the Patriot Act insertion took effect and thereby Senate confirmation would not be needed [I mean, Bush had been in his second term for over a year already, so the excuse they're peddalling about timing it with that falls flat]), the more it irks me that they thought they could get away with it (see earlier comments re: arrogance).

Not even the humiliating thumpin' in November seems to have halted their overreaching...it's like a compulsion with this crew. Someone, something, somewhere MUST restore balance, and I personally don't want to see comparisons with Clinton used to water down the aggreious abuse of power here.

Think about what they almost got away with. Think about the power to launch investigations on any sitting Dem in the upcoming 2008 elections.

Think about what they almost got away with.

almost?

those attorneys are still fired, right ?

Edward,
I guess I take tu quoque as a serious thing, bc it's the only good way I can see to figure out where the lines ought to be in a world where politics has dirty margins. We can't easily lay down hard and fast rules in that environment, so we're forced into deciding if something is truly out of bounds by asking if both sides can agree. But some partisans are unwilling to agree, so we examine their past behavior- is this truly heinous, or did you defend it last week when *your* senator did it?

OTOH, you're correct, it often turns into a red herring. What can you do? Ill assume that others are arguing in good faith even when I suspect that they might not be.

mainly because it is deeply stupid to spend as much time in jail for contempt as you would for perjury

1)Starr could charge her with obstruction as well as perjury, in which case more jail time would be attached. Starr never charged her with perjury or obstruction, but he did charge Steele with obstruction in a similar situation (Steele's maximum sentence if convicted would've been 35 years. I fear I must point out for you that 35 > 2).
2)as I pointed out above, only if she knows the future- that she will serve the entire contempt sentence.
Since neither of those are true, it may not be "deeply stupid". Knowing exactly how things would play out, she presumably would've testified immediately that Clinton knew nothing, since Starr had nothing to disprove her testimony.
So, if "deeply stupid" = "not precognitive", I guess I agree.

McDougal refuses to testify. Allegedly because she is afraid her testimony will be contradicted forcefully enough to SUCCESSFULLY hit her with a perjury charge.

As I pointed out above, Steele paid a very high price for an unsuccessful attempt to convict her of perjury. She lost her life savings. She was tied up in court proceedings for a long time. Starr allegedly threatened to look into the legality of her adoption of her son. She lost her job.

The impeachment happens, and Starr's evidence is out for the public to see.

As I pointed out above (why must I keep pointing things out repeatedly?), the impeachment would not necessarily have revealed a witness who says they heard McDougal say she heard Clinton talking about the Hale loan. Or an email from McDougal to a friend admitting that she knew Clinton was lying. That would be hearsay in a charge against Clinton. The impeachment proceedings could have failed to reveal many things that might be used to impeach McDougal's testimony.
That is to say
Since the testimony will be about Clinton, this hypothetical evidence that McDougal is worried about must be something about Clinton
is mistaken, and I've pointed that out already. It's, excuse me, obviously mistaken. Mistaken in a way that is so sloppy in its thinking it's almost wishful.
In fact, since the impeachment wasn't about Whitewater, even things directly bearing on Clinton's role in eg the Hale loan would not necessarily have come to light.

Now, it's *possible* that events of the impeachment revealed to McDougal that she could lie safely, but it is far from clear that that was the case, for those two reasons. I would even say "unlikely", given the second point.

In any event, it is an illegitimate attack on the truth-finding ability of the legal process to defend witnesses from their responsibility to tell the truth by appealing to the hairy political situation and worrying about perjury. It is wrong when McDougal does it and it is wrong now.

But you have no tears to shed for prosecutorial misconduct. You have nothing to say about Steele's case, where she was prosecuted for he-said, she-said perjury where *both* major players had lied- a case where a decision beyond a reasonable doubt was a ludicrous hope. A case so weak that it was a mistrial even though Steele's attorney's didn't present a lick of evidence.
You want to trot out crap like Broaddrick's 20-year-old rape allegation- which she lied about in an affadavit, and which she decided she just had to get off of her chest at a most poliitcally convenient time for the GOP. This story arouses no suspicions at all from you. (nb maybe Broaddrick is telling the truth, I have no way of knowing. But I don't see any evidence supporting her claim, and much that makes it suspicious).
And yet you want to beat your breast over political bias. If you wish for the sake of political convenience to make witness integrity the only issue of the day and ignore prosecurtorial misconduct, fine. But don't call it political bias when the rest of us choose not to join you.

Besides which, are you so ready to ignore hilzoy's lesson from the post itself that situations are flexible? Do you condemn, for example, someone who refused to name associates for McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee? Because that's what this sounds like to me- you're making a hard and fast moral rule on the fly, but one that IMO is obviously flawed. And you're doing it because it's politically convenient.

"didn't mean to pile on Seb, but we've seen far too often the issue at hand during Bush's reign get brushed aside as business as usual because of some supposed parallel with what Clinton did."

But that isn't my argument. My argument is that Goodling's excuse is pathetic, just like McDougal. And that unlike McDougal, no one should be excusing it.

For me this is an illustration of how illegitimate justifications that seem nice because you like your side can come back and bite you later. In a similar vein, if penumbras and emmanations can create a new Constitutional right, or cause it to outlaw the death penalty when it is clearly provided for, you have to expect that your exciting tool will be used to twist the Constitution in ways you don't like too.

If we sow the seeds to destroy the fabric of the legal order so we can get a temporary advantage, we shouldn't be shocked when the other side does it. That is why I find the current Republican party so frustrating. The things I opposed in the Democratic Party, which the Republican Party vocally opposed, end up being ignored when the Republican Party wins. And then when the Repbulican Party wins for a few years in a row, they use the tools I hated cause different perversions of the law than Democrats would do, but perversions nonetheless.

And that leaves me pretty much nowhere. I can become that oppositionalist, but I find that deeply unfulfilling.

"That would be hearsay in a charge against Clinton."

Hearsay was allowable in the Clinton trial because the Senators all think they are smart enough to deal with hearsay adequately.

The Steele case isn't nearly as clear cut as you seem to think. She directly contradicted herself on the most important point of the investigation. Her initial statements supporting Willey and her affidavit contradicting that showed (not suggested, showed) that she blatantly lied in one of those two statements. (And remember she was not prosecuted for perjury, she was prosecuted for false statements and obstructing an investigation--a la Martha Stewart.) Now I happen to think that the Martha Stewart prosecution was crap, and the same for Steele for exactly the same reason. But once again, I'm not the one trying to defend both sides of something depending on whether it is my side getting in trouble or not.

The Steele case isn't nearly as clear cut as you seem to think. She directly contradicted herself on the most important point of the investigation. Her initial statements supporting Willey and her affidavit contradicting that showed (not suggested, showed) that she blatantly lied in one of those two statements.

Hate to repeat myself yet again (this is getting old), but quoth the Wu:
she [Steele] was prosecuted for he-said, she-said perjury where *both* major players had lied
Here's some help if you had trouble following that: one of the "major players" is Steele. I apologize for not spelling that out.
She lied to Isakoff. Then she retreated her statement to Isakoff prior to publication, saying that Wiley asked her to lie as a friend. Wiley, it must be pointed out, also had serious memory issues, claiming she couldn't remember certain things under oath, yet suddenly recalling them in great detail later.
Based on that, Starr goes to trial. Beyond a reasonable doubt...
So, that's not the same kind of crap that Stewart got into. That's prosecuting someone with virtually no chance of getting a conviction, as payback for not giving the story Starr wanted to hear.

But once again, I'm not the one trying to defend both sides of something depending on whether it is my side getting in trouble or not.

Yes you are. Just in a different way- suddenly you've decided that witnesses' honesty is the only important factor worth discussing. Prosecutorial misconduct is *not interesting* to you, because it points in the wrong direction.
You're not stupid enough to just defend one position on the merits and not the other. But you're not honest enough or apolitical enough to recognize how you've manipulated the standards of the discussion to reach the desired outcome.

Hearsay was allowable in the Clinton trial because the Senators all think they are smart enough to deal with hearsay adequately.

I stand corrected- thanks. That doesn't change
1)just because something is admissible doesn't mean it gets used and
2)the impeachment wasn't about Whitewater, so evidence pertaining to Whitewater and David Hale would have little reason to be exposed by the impeachment.
That is to say, you've managed once again to respond without taking on the substance of the argument- you are mistaken to claim that McDougal would've had access to all of Starr's Whitewater evidence after the impeachment.

Carleton Wu, you wrote:

Prosecutorial misconduct is *not interesting* to you, because it points in the wrong direction.
You're not stupid enough to just defend one position on the merits and not the other. But you're not honest enough or apolitical enough to recognize how you've manipulated the standards of the discussion to reach the desired outcome.

Perhaps you didn't read:

(And remember she was not prosecuted for perjury, she was prosecuted for false statements and obstructing an investigation--a la Martha Stewart.) Now I happen to think that the Martha Stewart prosecution was crap, and the same for Steele for exactly the same reason.

I'm not sure where you go the idea that I thought the prosecution was other than crap, but there it is. But it isn't crap for the reasons you say. She made two blatantly conflicting statements. At least one of those statements was blatantly false. It isn't a he said/she said situation. It is a Steele said/Steele said situation.

Furthermore, I find it very difficult to believe that the Steele situation had any effect on McDougal's judgment--as she entered jail for contempt on Sept. 4th 1996 and the Steele lies (whichever ones they were didn't occur until 1998).

bet you didn't know that Ken Starr employs two US Supreme Court Justices in the summer.
Here it is:
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1174912592026

"Hearsay was allowable in the Clinton trial because the Senators all think they are smart enough to deal with hearsay adequately."

LOL! As I recall, no evidence whatsoever was allowed in the Clinton trial, because the Senators were offended by the idea of having to listen to lowly House members, and insisted on going straight to a vote without letting the House present it's case first.

The things I opposed in the Democratic Party, which the Republican Party vocally opposed, end up being ignored when the Republican Party wins.

And vice versa. The party in power will use the power they have. Period, which is why we can't let one branch of government get too strong.

Here's the crux of the bigger issue for me. The further we let Bush push and erode the checks and balances, the more likely his successor is to abuse the newly gained powers.

I've seen for some time now the real threat is not Bush...he's too incompetent to become King (seriously, he's toast)...but a smarter, less scrupulous (it's possible) president with the powers Bush has carved out for himself could do serious harm to the country. I know it's gonna strike some folks are paranoid, but I would never want Rudy to have those kinds of powers. Never. I wouldn't want Hillary to have them either. I sure the f*ck don't want a Cheney or DeLay to have them.

I'm not sure where you go the idea that I thought the prosecution was other than crap, but there it is. But it isn't crap for the reasons you say. She made two blatantly conflicting statements. At least one of those statements was blatantly false. It isn't a he said/she said situation. It is a Steele said/Steele said situation.

The first time she wasn't under oath, she was talking to a reporter. Under oath she told one consistent story.
Either you know that, and you're obfuscating, or you don't, and you're just babbling. People lie *all the time* for various reasons, and it's legal. Steele had a reason for (she claims) lying to Isakoff the first time. And she retracted her claim to Isakoff long before Starr had anything to do with it.
Since I said from the beginning that *both* of the major players had lied previously to their testimony, I don't know why you think that emphasizing Steele's initial (claimed) dishonesty over and over ("blatantly", no less) makes some sort of point.

The point is, there was no case. Nothing remotely resembling a case. Starr went ahead with it anyway, and the only motive that I can see for his behavior is vendetta.

And, you 'care' about prosecutorial misconduct, Im sure. It's just that your concern about it vanished into thin air when convenient, and you started going on about the sanctity of the judicial process.

Furthermore, I find it very difficult to believe that the Steele situation had any effect on McDougal's judgment--as she entered jail for contempt on Sept. 4th 1996 and the Steele lies (whichever ones they were didn't occur until 1998).

No one said that. The Steele case demonstrates that Starr was willing to go far beyond ethical standards in order to prosecute those who didn't say what he wanted on the stand.
With that example of his conduct, it's easy to think that he might have conducted himself in a similar 'crappy' manner in the past. This makes McDougal's account much more credible.
Or, perhaps you thought that I meant that McDougal foresaw Steele's case and therefore worried about an obstruction charge. But Im not the one who thinks McDougal can see the future- she had no idea what she might be charged with, so we can't assume that she would know that the two prison terms would be equal. In fact, we have no reason to think that Starr wouldn't have charged her with obstruction- so maybe she can see the future, and chose to go with the shorter sentence.

(and fyi, if Steele is telling the truth now she only lied once, to Isakoff, in 1987. Interesting slip that you say her lies took place during her trial. It's almost like you've prejudged from some partisan prejudice, but we all know you're above that).

Im baffled that someone who would throw out backhanded references to Clinton as a rapist could also view themselves as some sort of nonpartisan saint. Some evenhanded arbiter of right and wrong, unable to stand the common hypocrisy and partisanship of the masses.
I mean, as evidenced here you can't even condemn GOP wrongdoing without contorting yourself into the position of simultaneously condemning Democrats- no, mostly condemning Democrats.
Your first post in this thread referenced
1)Senator Kennedy
2)Susan McDougal
3)Marc Rich
It's 90% about the Clenis and 10% about how you're not completely happy with Bush because he's behaving like the Clenis.

Given that opening statement, it's hard to pretend that you're doing anything but damage control. In your own head, maybe, but damage control- of the "they do it too" variety.
Your crying about all this vicious partisanship while simultaneously pimping an unsubstantiated rape allegation for partisan purposes is a bit hard to take.

In any case, Im done. I explain to you twice that Steele lied to Isakoff, and then you present it as if it were something new that you'd just uncovered. Something that I hadn't already talked about. Something that completely overturns my understanding of the situation (ie But it isn't crap for the reasons you say).
I don't see any point in continuing the conversation if Im going to dig up facts, present them to you twice, and then have you pretend you've found them and that the somehow undercut what Im saying- even when they don't come close.

Sebastian:

If your point is about the nonsense of a witness refusing to testify because of fear of mistreatment, then there is a parallel between McDougal and Goodling. The difference is that it turns out McDougal had some basis in fact for fearing a vindictive perjury prosecution from Starr if she did not give the story she he wanted to hear. I do not think many lefties praise McDougal -- she was lucky to have escaped a finding of guilt for fleecing the Mehtas.

It's worth noting that any such strong-arming would have been by one of the awful underlings under Starr (who have gone on to further misdeeds in the DoJ) -- Starr himself knew nothing about such subtle points of criminal prosecutions, as he had zero experience as a prosecutor. He would have rubber-stamped the tactic, though.

"I mean, as evidenced here you can't even condemn GOP wrongdoing without contorting yourself into the position of simultaneously condemning Democrats- no, mostly condemning Democrats.
Your first post in this thread referenced
1)Senator Kennedy
2)Susan McDougal
3)Marc Rich"

The premise of this post is that Republicans engage in "no limits" politics. Josh Marshall specifically suggested that this was a new Republican phenomenon.

My argument is that it is not a new phenomenon, its seeds were planted in past actions (many of them used by Democrats to consolidate their own temporary power) and at best perfected (or at least made as perfect as they have been made thus far) by the Bush Administration.

I agree with Edward when he writes:

Here's the crux of the bigger issue for me. The further we let Bush push and erode the checks and balances, the more likely his successor is to abuse the newly gained powers.

The seeds of the rationale for the Goodling idiocy can be easily found in the defense of McDougal's attempt to evade the workings of the justice system. That defense appears to have been well embraced here--with embarassing results as the Goodling justification appeared.

Senator Kennedy's evasion of manslaughter or murder charges show that Josh's formulation of "And we assume that criminal prosecutions will be undertaken or not undertaken on the facts," is a strange assumption to have made.

The prospective pardon of Libby is well grounded in the political dialectic that defends the pardons of McDougal, Rich and the drug-dealing non-President Clinton. Those abuses of power can be indirectly traced to some of the Iran-Contra pardons. And so on.

The crappy intellectual defense of stupid Consitutional theories brought forth by Gonzales in the torture cases and the detainee cases find their roots in the extra-Constitutional gamesmanship charted by working well beyond the text into penumbras and emannations. Frankly, the awful Gonzales rationales are more closely grounded to the actual Constitution than Roe--but you shouldn't mistake that for a compliment to Gonzales at all.

I'm very certain that even conservatives who still defend the President today will be dismayed by how the tools he is attempting to craft get used in the future.

My point is very conservative--abusing the process for temporary advantage often lays the groundwork for the other side to stretch when it can get temporary advantage. This goes on and on and isn't good for the overall health of the country.

The reason I draw comparisons to commonly defended practices (like McDougal or Roe) is NOT to defend the administration. It is specifically not tu quoque. I'm hoping ( in vain I am almost sure) to draw attention to the danger or illegitimacy of using and defending such techniques EVEN IF YOU BELIEVE IT HELPS YOUR SIDE IN THE MEDIUM RUN.

Frankly, the awful Gonzales rationales are more closely grounded to the actual Constitution than Roe

What Griswold-like case precedents and language in the 9th and 10th Amendments exist to support Gonzales's torture rationales?

"and fyi, if Steele is telling the truth now she only lied once, to Isakoff, in 1987"

This seems unlikely as Clinton wasn't even elected until 1992 and the alleged groping incident was in 1993. I'll presume you mean 1997, though I don't understand how you think it helps. Did Steele believe that Isikoff wouldn't report it? Very odd.

"I explain to you twice that Steele lied to Isakoff, and then you present it as if it were something new that you'd just uncovered."

A) I did no such thing, and B) I have no idea what you think you are accomplishing with this sentence or the paragraph it is found in. You dig up facts and 'facts' but the way you apply them to get conclusions is what I'm disputing. The idea that McDougal's behaviour argues that she meant to tell the truth all along is at the very best highly questionable. The idea that the pardon should count for nothing in the analysis of what happened is highly questionable. The idea that the highly suspect defense of "I'm afraid of perjury charges when I tell the truth, THEREFORE I will say nothing even when ordered by the court" can be embraced in any case without leaving the door wide open for other stupid applications of it seems highly suspect to me.

You repeatedly seem to cast me as a defender of the administration when that is the exact opposite of what I'm doing. I'm attacking the misuse of law to get your own social ends. I get very little traction when I merely point out the misuse--I typically get a "sure Roe may be formally suspect but I agree with the end result so I'll defend it anyway". I get much more traction from suggesting how the pseduo-justifications employed for Roe pave the way for abuse of judicial process as later manifest in the habeas corpus cases.

That isn't a defense of the habeas corpus cases AT ALL. It only sounds like it because lots of people are deeply and emotionally invested in Roe. The same is true of the McDougal case. I'm not protecting Goodling at all. I'm saying that the McDougal rationale was incredibly stupid and defense of it is destructive to the rule of law. The Goodling rationale is deeply similar, a step further IN THE SAME DIRECTION, and is destructive to the rule of law.

I use the McDougal case to illustrate the bankruptcy of the argument to Bush supporters and the Goodling case to illustrate the same to Clinton supporters.

There are far more of you in the latter group here. Hence, knowing my audience, you see which one I have to mention more.

I don't have to convince you of how stupid the Goodling rationale is. It should be self-evident to non-Bush supporters.

The premise of this post is that Republicans engage in "no limits" politics. Josh Marshall specifically suggested that this was a new Republican phenomenon.

My argument is that it is not a new phenomenon...

Josh addressed stuff like the Kennedy Thing when he discussed 'the margins'. So, all of this is to say that no system is perfect and partisan affiliation may distort the justice system at the margins.

But none of what we're seeing here is at the margins. What we seem to see are repeated cases in which US Attorneys were fired for not pursuing bogus prosecutions of persons of the opposite party.

Part of your thesis seems to be that liberals accepted the Kennedy Thing. That we think that that was Ok, and that therefore (according to you) we're accomplices in this degradation of the system.
Since you apparently need to hear it, I would gladly see Ted Kennedy removed from the Senate for his role in The Thing. He's done good things, but The Thing was wrong, ugly, and unrectifiable.
So your theory is untrue in both its prongs: liberals do not generally endorse The Kennedy Thing, and the occurrence of the Thing is clearly a one-off, marginal event- not an attempt to hijack the machinery of the Justice Department for partisan political purposes.
Likewise, something like the pardon of Roger Clinton. It may be wrong, but it is clearly not using the system to pervert politics and destroy our institutions. The former is an irritant to our sense of fairness. The latter is a very dangerous phenomenon to our democracy.

It is specifically not tu quoque.

Thus the necessity to mention en passant an unsubstantiated rape allegation. With "alleged" in parenthesis, emphasizing your apparent belief that the accusation is true.
Thus the coincidence that *every single example* you chose to provide was of Clinton. (You did say "Nixon" once, if that gets you any credit).
You were so outraged at this Republican offense that you could think of nothing but... The Clenis.

Sorry, not buying. Maybe you sleep better for your explanation, but it holds no water.

You repeatedly seem to cast me as a defender of the administration when that is the exact opposite of what I'm doing.

If the exact opposite is not saying much to condemn them while using past examples to try to show that their behavior is actually typical, then yes, that's the exact opposite. I see it more like "token opposition followed by tu quoque followed by obtuseness and smokescreening".

There are far more of you in the latter group here. Hence, knowing my audience, you see which one I have to mention more.

oh geez, Im so sorry about making you turn on your all-Clenis-all-the-time powers. If only I could restrain myself. I will certainly try harder next time; perhaps then your ostensibly 'a pox on both your houses' comments will actually use Republican examples. Or, should I be so lucky, you'll respond to a Democratic misdeed with a bunch of qualifications, tu quoques, and little dribbles of leftwing wingnuttia.

"Josh addressed stuff like the Kennedy Thing when he discussed 'the margins'."

Kennedy can't be dismissed to the margins. The Kennedy's were every bit as important a political family as anyone and their evasion of the justice system was not limited to that one incident.

And this is entirely in line with how you are engaging my argument. Dismissive, even when forced to be clearly wrong in doing so.

"Since you apparently need to hear it, I would gladly see Ted Kennedy removed from the Senate for his role in The Thing. He's done good things, but The Thing was wrong, ugly, and unrectifiable."

The funny thing is that you have illustrated repeatedly that you don't accept similar statements from me about Republicans.

2-3 years from now Democrats will be saying, “But Bush did it too! Bush did it worse!” and I’ll be saying, “Bush who? Is he still president? We’re talking about your guy, why do you keep bringing Bush into it? Ah-Ha! Changing the subject…”

Of course that assumes Internet access in the re-education camp, which seems unlikely.

Two or three years from now seems about the right amount of time for Bush to be on trial in the Hague....

In any event, it is an illegitimate attack on the truth-finding ability of the legal process to defend witnesses from their responsibility to tell the truth by appealing to the hairy political situation and worrying about perjury. It is wrong when McDougal does it and it is wrong now.

Sebastian, nobody defended McDougal. She served her time.

But 9/11 changed everything. Now it's time to ship Goodling to Gitmo and force her to testify. ;)

Seriously now, nobody defended McDougal and she did serve her time. So let's nobody defend Goodling and make sure she serves time too.

You really aren't arguing that close to Gonzales is innocent, are you? We're agreed that these guys are at least as bad as Clinton, right? Worse than Clinton? Do we agree that they're even worse than Clinton?

Oops, that was "You really aren't arguing that anybody close to Gonzales is innocent, are you?".

No Sebastian bashing. It's perfectly possible to explain one's disagreement with him without impugning his motives.

I'd consider adding something, but I didn't pay much attention to McDougall at the time, and have a pretty deep disinclination to revisit the whole episode. However, for what it's worth:

Chappaquiddick: bad, bad, bad.

Roger Clinton: Ew.

Pardon of Marc whatshisname: I had always thought 'bad', but on reading some of the comments here, I think that before expressing a view I'd have to go research the case. So I'll just say: I'm perfectly prepared to think that it was bad.

Monica Lewinsky: I didn't think it merited impeachment, myself, but I may never forgive Clinton for handing that weapon to his enemies.

Ken Starr: bad.

Newt Gingrich: How our country ever got to the point where we didn't collectively get the giggles and then usher him permanently from the room when he blamed liberalism for the fact that a mother killed her two children, I'll never know.

The whole impeachment process: serves to distinguish seriousness from faux-seriousness, since it had almost limitless quantities of the latter while being about as profoundly un-serious about the Constitution as it's possible to be.

Clinton's Christmas card list: a profound threat to the nation. -- Oh, wait.

I could go on, but must I?

Brett: LOL! As I recall, no evidence whatsoever was allowed in the Clinton trial, because the Senators were offended by the idea of having to listen to lowly House members, and insisted on going straight to a vote without letting the House present it's case first.

And once again, your recollection is simply wrong. Not a little bit wrong: completely wrong. Ganz falsch. See, for example, the University of Michigan archive on the impeachment, or the collected transcripts of the impeachment at the Washington Post, where you'll see an entire day of the trial devoted to the House managers' presentation of the initial evidence as well as another entire day of the trial devoted to presenting additional video materials relating to the trial, the whole trial taking more than a month. Not exactly "going straight to a vote", that.

In fact, your "LOL" notwithstanding, your recollection falls into Pauli's derisive category: nicht einmal falsch. Not even false. Please -- especially if you feel compelled to snarkily undercut someone -- try to spend a modicum of effort at being accurate in the future.

And on an unrelated note: Carleton, I like your general points but would you mind walking back the antagonism against Sebastian? Right-wing or not, he (and OCSteve, should it come to that) doesn't deserve that kind of attitude. Just correct him and be done with it.

ETA: Dammit, hilzoy beat me to it. Oh well, it still applies.

Kennedy can't be dismissed to the margins. The Kennedy's were every bit as important a political family as anyone and their evasion of the justice system was not limited to that one incident.

I see that Josh's entire point flew harmlessly past your head.
There has always been political corruption. There has always been favoritism, etc. But it is rare in America that justice is perverted wholesale. Not just to protect a favorite son, but perverted to the ends of an entire political party.
If you confuse Kennedy and Roger Clinton with Carol Lamm, you are intentionally failing to grasp the gravity of the situation. If Kennedy walked, that was one evildoer unpunished. If USAs only prosecute the 'other' party (and then even when they're innocent), we've got a serious problem. The credibility of the entire system will be in jeopardy, and we'll be on the road to a system like Nigeria (where a bunch of opposition candidates were recently removed from the election lists bc of presumably bogus indictments).
If, for example, the Menendez indictment was a bogus smear (not a known yet, but suspicious), then that's a bad sign. A sign that 'corruption' is being re-defined to mean 'out of power'. Real corruption will hide behind power and its lack of desire to prosecute it.
This is all much worse than one drug user getting his record cleaned.

And this is entirely in line with how you are engaging my argument. Dismissive, even when forced to be clearly wrong in doing so.

I am dismissive of you because your reaction to Republican wrongdoing has been, at best 'a pox on both' and at worst drive-by claims of sexual assault. Your examples are not on point (we're talking, again, about wholesale use of the Justice Department for partisan gain, not one individual getting away with a crime on a state level). But they were a best-hits collection of wingnuttia.
I don't doubt that you wish that the USA scandal had not occurred. But you couldn't just condemn it, or consider the implications, etc. For whatever reason you had to drag the Clenis into it and make it clear that Dems weren't any better than Repubs (worse, more likely). You've spent something like 3 paragraphs with your concern about the USA incident, very mild paragraphs with no rape allegations or anything.

The funny thing is that you have illustrated repeatedly that you don't accept similar statements from me about Republicans.

The day I show up in a thread about Democratic corruption (eg one of the recent Jefferson threads, or let's say a hypothetical thread about The Kennedy Thing) saying "Of course, this is no good- but really, if Reagan the Rapist hadn't done it first and worst, we wouldn't be in this mess. Don't blame us Dems for Reagan, we tried to warn you!"- that day, you can dismiss my claim to be truly upset.
And, like I said- I never claimed you weren't unhappy with the scandal, just that your reaction has been to obscure and smokescreen it.

No Sebastian bashing. It's perfectly possible to explain one's disagreement with him without impugning his motives.

I admit, this is someone about OW that's always bugged me. It's ok for a poster to offhandedly suggest that someone is a rapist if that person isn't posting. If they're posting, we must give the benefit of the doubt even when the doubt appears to have already benefitted twice over...
Not proposing a solution or anything- we need to be able to talk about things in the world & that often means being blunt about those acting in the world. I don't think Seb saying that is something that shouldn't occur on the board, but then I want to be able to point out what I think about his action & what that does to the conversation- but now I must watch the line?
It's a little weird.

Anarch,
I don't really think of it as antagonism towards Seb personally. Just towards his explanations or arguments. Maybe that explains why I can sound like this and still think of the board as a happy and friendly place.
It would be very English Club of us to agree to disagree or to never question motivations, but Im not real gentlemanly about such things. And I don't really expect to get that benefit either- Seb has repeatedly questioned by motivation, claiming that Im merely covering for 'my side'- and that's fine, IMO. He can take that line if he thinks it's correct.
As for the mudslinging- well, there may be a fine line between suggesting that the other party is an idiot for forgetting the basics of the discussion and actually calling them an idiot outright, but Id just as soon insults directed at me found the courage to stand upright anyway.

Irony thy name is Wu?

Hilzoy:Clinton's Christmas card list: a profound threat to the nation.

I had forgotten about that. 140 hours of hearings! (Yes, I had to look that up.)

Reading through all this I am amazed out how much I don’t recall. Sucks getting old(er) – or maybe it is some kind of psychological block to preserve my mental health.

Oops, that was "You really aren't arguing that anybody close to Gonzales is innocent, are you?".

OCSteve: there was a reason why some of us who don't like perjury even a little bit, and thought (as noted above) that Clinton was an idiot to have handed the GOP such a huge weapon as Monica (and for her? please), nonetheless thought that the Congressional Republicans at that time were either on an obsessive witchhunt, or willing to tolerate people who were on an obsessive witchhunt as their leaders.

I mean: honestly, I didn't care who Clinton sleeps with, myself. I think that's between him, Hillary, and Chelsea. As far as I'm concerned, he could have had a thing for insects or unicellular organisms and I wouldn't care. I really didn't like the lying under oath. But I also really didn't like the hearing after hearing after hearing on one trumped-up, stupid thing after another -- Christmas cards, filegate, travelgate, blah blah blah. Part of what absolutely blew my mind about the Monica thing was the thought that when those utterly amoral people were after him, he actually gave them something true to talk about.

I completely sympathize with people who loathe the whole Christmas-card-list0investigating mentality so much that they find themselves defending the perjury. I really disagree with them, and I think: this is just one of those cases where totally disliking someone does not imply that the people they go after aren't sometimes in the wrong. But I understand exactly where they're coming from.

One of the minor ironies of the last few years has been listening to the very same people who were so absolutely horrified by the idea that someone would deny an affair under oath suddenly go all blase when it comes to, say, Scooter Libby, or the administration's claims about smoking guns and mushroom clouds, and so on. And the very same people who acted as though the Christmas card list really was a sign of total moral bankruptcy come up with reasons why outing CIA agents out of political spite is actually not a problem.

In another context, it would be incredibly funny.

you people still going on about Clinton?

i've got some bad news for you, Sunshines: you can argue about the past till the stars fall from the sky for you and i, but not even Cher could turn back time. the dirty deeds are done, and there aren't any new tales to tell about them. yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone. don't stop thinking about tomorrow. but really, try to stop living in the past.

That begins to look a lot more like an anti-rule-of-law 'different rules for candidates I like than for those I detest' standard.

McDougal went to jail. Clinton was impeached.

I would be perfectly happy to see the same happen to Goodling and Bush. So you can put me down in the "same rules for candidates I like" etc. column.

I'm not sure what you're getting out of reliving the high points of the Clinton scandals, Sebastian, but it's boring the hell out of me. I think we've all been there and done that 1,000 times by now.

What's your point?

Thanks -

And the very same people who acted as though the Christmas card list really was a sign of total moral bankruptcy come up with reasons why outing CIA agents out of political spite is actually not a problem.

Hey, remember when the Republicans took control of Congress because Democrats were kiting personal checks on their personal House bank accounts? Thousands of dollars changed hands.

Good times.

Thanks -

B.O.S.H.M.O.!

BOSHMO shall rule the earth!

Hilzoy: I didn't care who Clinton sleeps with, myself. I think that's between him, Hillary, and Chelsea.

I hope you meant to say: between him, Hilzoy, and Monica. Otherwise, ew.

What does BOSHMO stand for?

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