Friday, May 23, 2008

Is Bush Sleaze Coming to the Surface?

We are living in troubled times, with a brewing government scandal that someday is likely to be considered the worst in our nation's history.

Evidence continues to mount that the Bush Department of Justice (DOJ) has caused people to be fired for political reasons, has caused people to be imprisoned for political reasons, has thumbed its nose at the oversight powers of Congress, and essentially treated our constitution like yesterday's trash.

Years from now, when historians scour the evidence of malfeasance and criminality at the Bush DOJ, they probably will focus heavily on the past 24 hours, encompassing May 22 and 23, 2008.

Consider what has happened in that time frame:

* Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman files documents asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out his conviction on various grounds. I haven't seen the Siegelman appellate documents, but from reading news reports, their general theme seems to be: "My prosecution was ramrodded by cohorts of my political opponent, my conviction was driven by a corrupt and incompetent federal judge, both prosecutors and the judge presented misrepresentations of the law to the jury, and because of all this, I've been held political prisoner--in the United States of America, what is supposed to be the earth's most enlightened and powerful country." My research indicates Siegelman is on pretty solid footing with all of that. And anyone who doubts the evil intent of U.S. Judge Mark Fuller, need only take a semi-objective look at the evidence that Fuller himself has presented.

* Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee sent a subpoena to former White House advisor Karl Rove, seeking his testimony regarding the possible political prosecution of Don Siegelman. This all raises a couple of questions: (1) What took them so long? and (2) Why is Karl Rove being treated with a respect he doesn't deserve? Rove is just the latest Bush loyalist to thumb his nose at Congress' oversight committee. It's about time committee chair John Conyers truly relies on his instincts and "kicks some ass."

* MSNBC presented some superb television last night. It's an example of how good cable news can be when talented people really put their minds to it. First, Keith Olbermann on Countdown had a splendid interview with Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley. Olbermann's questions were succinct, informed, and probing. Turley did the best job I've seen of explaining the audacity driving Rove's refusal to testify, the gross incompetence of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and the legal options available to Congress. The Greenlee Gazette presents a nice overview of the Olbermann/Turley interview.

* Dan Abrams followed up with an excellent panel discussion on The Verdict. Abrams panel included Don Siegelman, Michael Iglesias, and a constitutional-law expert. Our friends at WriteChic have an excellent wrapup of the Abrams interview. Abrams is a strong interviewer, and he shed considerable light on an important topic. But I have a couple of quibbles with his performance last night:

(1) The presentation would have been far better without Michael Isikoff, of Newsweek. I've generally held Isikoff in high regard, but I recall reading somewhere recently (can't remember where) that Isikoff comes off as a protector of Karl Rove. That's how he came off last night, and he also had a hard time getting his facts straight. The interview would have been far more informative without Isikoff.

(2) Abrams did not allow Siegelman and Iglesias to speak nearly enough. Both men have been on the front line in this scandal, and neither got to say much. Also, when Siegelman tried to bring up the importance of going after Rove's foot soldiers in Alabama (Bill Canary, Leura Canary, etc.), Abrams cut him off. Abrams seemed only interested in Rove, but Siegelman was making an important point and it deserved followup questions.

For an excellent overview of the past 24 hours' events, including both the issues involved and the media coverage of them, check out Dan Froomkin's piece in the Washington Post.

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