Friday, June 08, 2007

The GOP God Squad

" When a person says, "My faith doesn't affect my decision- making," I would say that the person is saying their faith is not significant to impact their decision process.”
(Governor Mike Huckabee, GOP Presidential Candidate Debate. May 3 2007)

As the GOP has so-decidedly become “God’s Own Party” I think the moderators of the debates should include the “faith factor” in every single question they ask the candidates, so that we can all gain some deeper understanding of how their religious convictions might affect their policies.

Such as:

Given that the 7th Commandment is “thou shalt not commit adultery”, and that the biblical punishment for adultery is death by stoning, how would you apply these to current laws concerning marriage and divorce?

As the 2nd Commandment states that “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above,” and that we know from the Bible that Jesus sits at the right hand of God in Heaven” would you seek ban the sculpted depictions of Christ’s crucifixion, or would simply no longer recognize the tax-exempt status of religious organizations who continued their use because as they would be violating God’s law they wouldn’t be practicing a legitimate faith?

As we are all God’s children and as He is a loving God who watches over all of us, would you eliminate all health and safety regulations, or would there simply be an exemption for regular church-going Christians?

“Homosexuals are an abomination unto the lord and any man that lieth with another man shall be stoned to death.” Do you agree with that statement, and if so would you set up a separate government department devoted to that task—and how would you pay for that—or would that responsibility be tasked to the DHS?

When it comes the safety our brave men and women serving in Iraq would you support regular burnt offerings to the Lord our God accompanied by prayers, or do you think $100 billion a year in appropriations is sufficient?

A traditional concern of Conservatives in particular is excessive government, government waste and the environment. As President would you consider, for example, replacing the presidential armored limousines with in-line skates or removing the engines from Air Force One and just fly on the power of faith, or what?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Love Letters for Libby

Justice Walton handed down concurrent 15-month and 30-month sentences to former Cheney Chief of Staff, “Scooter” Libby, found guilty of lying under oath and obstructing justice regarding the investigation into the exposure of covert CIA agent and WMD specialist Valerie Plame-- despite a letter-writing campaign by some 174 friends and colleagues pleading for leniency (versus 24 non-friends urging maximum time, which is what he got).

And oh what letters they are! And also, oh what letters they aren’t!

Back in February of this year John Podhoretz wrote an article entitled The Libby Farce: It’s a Trial About Nothing

“Now, Scooter Libby is an old friend of mine, and I think he is a great public servant and a patriot, and I would dearly love to see him acquitted”

But going by Raw Story’s summation of Libby’s supporters’ letters, Libby’s old friend J-Pod seems to have decided to STFU since then.
Dick Cheney declared “Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known” in an official statement on 10/28/2005 as well as in an hour-long interview with Chris Wallace on FOX, but apparently he couldn’t pen a letter of support, presumably due to other obligations.
Former Solicitor General Theodore Olsen who personally knows “what a prosecutor with unlimited time and resources can come up with after endless probing also seems to have been otherwise occupied. (Giggle if you really must.)

In fact it’s worth noting whose expressions of support are still posted on the Libby Legal Defense Trust website and who then actually appealed to the judge.

But in addition to those who did and didn’t write on Libby’s behalf, what was actually written struck me as very interesting and not particularly helpful to Libby or to the reputations of the respective authors.
Here for your amusement and amazement are some excerpts (full texts here at The Smoking Gun) some of which are quite revealing--as well of course, my comments.

Rumsfeld--“He is the type of person others can hold up to their children and grandchildren as an example of a truly honorable public servant”

Except for being a felon of course. But won’t somebody think of the children—and the grandchildren!

Wolfowitz--“He made decisive contributions to the development of our first post-Cold War defense strategy—a shift that made possible a nearly 40% reduction in spending and force levels.”

Gee, I thought that was Clinton’s fault and Kerry’s fault and it weakened America!

Wolfowitz--“He and his staff provide critical analysis and support for the development of the famous “left hook” around Kuwait.”

So if it weren’t for Libby and his staff, General Schwarzkopf might have just driven straight ahead and taken more casualties? Thanks Scooter, for showing a General how to fight a war!

Wolfowitz--“Mr. Libby played an influential role…in developing policy and strategy… including responses to various terrorist threats, the North Korean nuclear issue... the Middle East peace process and the strategy and policy for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

How very interesting that Wolfowitz should use this situation to credit Libby’s influence and by implication dilute his own.

Wolfowitz--“…he was a strong advocate for a more rapid build-up of the Iraqi army and a more rapid transfer to of sovereignty to the Iraqis, points on which history will prove him to have been prescient.”

If indeed Libby was such an advocate, so too was Wolfowitz—it was the one part of his own thinking that acknowledged at least some degree of pragmatic realism. But what does any of this have to do with Libby lying and obstructing justice in an investigation of the exposure of a CIA agent? Nothing!
But then Wolfowitz finally finds something pertinent to say about Libby when he praises Libby for:

Wolfowitz--“…his effort to persuade a newspaper not to publish information that would have endangered the life of a covert CIA agent working overseas.”

Really? What a patriot! Why couldn’t he similarly persuade Robert Novak not to publish? Didn’t Novak care about National Security? (umm…I guess not).

United Nations mole JohnThe Angry Walrus” Bolton helpfully writes:

Bolton---“I have myself been to meetings after which I could not remember what agency or Department most people worked for or why they were even there.”

Well, John, maybe that’s because you don’t even know why the United Nations even exists—but your own arrogance and ignorance doesn’t excuse Libby’s obvious lies.

Throughout the letters there is a consensus that Libby was a personable man, devoid of an overarching ego or Machiavellian mindset and therefore the notion that Libby might have been involved in a cover-up or conspiracy must be some kind of mistake.

But in trying to paint a picture of Libby as a selfless and tireless public servant (and totally not a megalomaniacal prick like everyone else) his supporters don’t skimp in praising him for his deep and wide involvement in pretty much every major foreign policy and national security issue---errrm…except for the justifications for invading Iraq and the outing of Plame of course—even though he was Cheney’s Chief of Staff.

His friends also haven’t helped him in talking-up his legal career—as a lawyer himself one would have expected to have mounted a solid defense and tell the truth. But he didn’t, because he couldn’t without implicating Cheney.

“Scooter” isn’t the nickname of a mastermind or a powerbroker, but of “a good soldier” (as one supporter has specifically described him and which most others imply). And Scooter wasn’t indicted for the leak—as right-wing harpies like Victoria Toensing kept maliciously claiming--he was indicted and convicted for obstructing the investigation into the leak.

Scooter was and is low-hanging fruit and if he really was the forthright and upstanding individual his friends claim, he wouldn’t have lied to save Cheney’s ass. But he did because he’s a “good soldier” and just follows orders.

Cheney hasn’t exactly rushed to Libby’s defense or offered anything like heartfelt support (perhaps understandable since he’s a cyborg) and has since only provided soulless single-sentence comments after being pressed to say anything at all.

As Scooter sits in his cell, I wonder if he’ll reflect on the nature of his relationship with Cheney? What conclusions might he draw about the superior he so faithfully served who couldn’t be bothered to write a character-letter to the judge on his behalf? Only time will tell.

But though Wolfowitz managed the longest and whiniest screed, the most maudlin and saccharine effort was by political dominatrix Mary Matalin. According to her, Scooter Libby shouldn’t go to jail because he was the world’s greatest dad and fake uncle and “loved all families” (her emphasis), but most especially the Cheney family spawn, and to make her fine legal point she provides the following example of Libby’s love:

Matalin—“While on one of our early “undisclosed location” work trips (which were…unanticipated by our families and us […] the Cheney grandchildren were required to accompany us, yanked out of school and away from their much-awaited night of Trick-or-Treating. Scooter flew into action, finding treats and creating costumes…it took hours and a very creative effort on his part.”

WTF? I mean, really, What the F-ing F?!! What else is there to say?

If Libby had spent a bit more time loving the Constitution and the law and the cares and needs of citizens rather than Dick Cheney and his grand-rugrats, maybe he wouldn’t be going to jail.

Still, at least he’ll be able to read and re-read the love-letters from all his friends—except, that is, from his one true love, Dick Cheney. Sadly for Libby, Cheney seems to be, like, so over him.

(Someone hand me a tissue, I think my allergies are playing up--or is someone chopping onions in here?)