Sunday, October 30, 2005

Enough With the Baseball Analogies! Are you Ready for Some Football?

Some on the left have expressed disappointment that Patrick Fitzgerald didn’t issue indictments for revealing the identity of a CIA operative instead of perjury and obstruction of justice. Conservatives are pushing hard the idea that the less specific charges are somehow weaker and less significant.

However, as I sit here on the couch on a Sunday morning, watching my beloved Raiders kick another field goal against the Titans, I can’t help but think about how the role of a prosecutor is similar to the role of a football coach calling plays during a game.

As the Raiders have proven time and again, it is much easier to call plays when you have the whole field in front of you than when you are in the “red zone.” It is much easier to move the ball when you have your whole playbook available to you. You can grind away with the running game, you can throw the ball downfield, or anything in between. And the defense has to worry about all of it! This gives you a huge advantage that you don’t have when you, and the defense, know that you only have to move the ball a few yards.

So what does this have to do with Fitzgerald’s case?

If he had filed charges for revealing the identity of a CIA operative, what would he have to prove to a jury? What would the defense be? For this type of charge, testimony would revolve around fairly narrow, technical issues such as whether Libby knew Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent, whether Libby knew the reporters didn’t already know about her, and whether it was revealed with specific intent. Lots of little details, and both sides would have to focus specifically on advancing or defending them. The whole trial would end up taking place in the red zone!

A perjury charge, on the other hand, is wide open! To prove to a jury that Libby lied and knew it at the time, there is the narrow task of showing there was a false statement. That's the running game! Libby’s defense will be something like, “Oops, I forgot what I said!” That's putting everyone up on the defensive line!

But in convincing a jury that Libby lied, Fitzgerald can also look deep. That is, he can focus on convincing the jury that there was a reason to lie. That’s what will allow him to open up the playbook! He can look at everything that was going on in the Vice President’s office surrounding Joseph Wilson trip to Niger. He can look at everything related to intelligence on the war in Iraq. Everything is potentially related to the reason Libby lied. Unlike the specific underlying charges that started the investigation, the perjury and obstruction charges keep the whole paying field wide open!

Now, excuse me, the Raiders just tossed a long touchdown pass!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Gone Fishin

I think the only way Fitzgerald would hold back on indicting Rove was if he is likely to catch a bigger fish.

Notice that GHWB actually caught the fish but GWB is taking the credit.

Woodward Springs a Leak

This has been bugging me since Thursday night when I saw it happen on "Larry King Live". Bob Woodward near the end of the hour broadcast said the following;

(CNN Transcript)

WOODWARD: I think one of the things that's fact that hasn't come out is we talk about...

KING: Uh-oh, here it comes!

WOODWARD: No, no. And this is not even a firecracker, but it's true. They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment. So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldridge James or Bob Hanson, big spies. This didn't cause damage.

If I'm not mistaken this CIA assessment would be classified. This has not been reported in the MSM. If Woodward was not just lying, the only way he could know it is if he was the recipient of a leak ----- A classified leak---- obviously designed to make the whitehouse look not quite so bad.

Where did Woodward get this information? My guess - Senior Administration Official A.

From a so called journalist - the way Woodward asserted it as being absolutely true was mind boggling. Mr. Woodward a certain prosecutor might want to speak with you.

I have read several good posts about this today. Here is a link to one of the best.

Did Rove Play the Pardon Card?

Much has been noted about the fact that Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, is known for his liberal politics. We also know that Luskin met with Fitzgerald at the last minute and that discussion caused Fitzgerald to refrain from indicting Rove along with Libby.

Why did the highly partisan Rove select an attorney who would seem to be his natural enemy, and what did Luskin say that stopped Fitzgerald from indicting his client?

Suppose Rove had a partisan conservative attorney who approached Fitzgerald and stated: "You know Bush is going to pardon anyone you indict, so I don't have to defend my client at all. All I have to do is run out the clock until 2008 and he's going to walk anyway. And here's how I'm going to do it . . . ." Fitzgerald would probably take it as as intimidation and perhaps alter his strategy to go after Rove immediately.

However, as a liberal, Luskin could make the same approach to Fitzgerald while mocking Bush, and even conveying the idea that he disagrees with Bush's tendency to be shameless, but the same situation still would apply. Indict Rove and he would be duty bound to run out the clock in the best interest of his client.

So Fitzgerald, knowing that all of his leverage comes from the threat of a speedy and politically damaging trial, decides that he is better off focusing only on Libby, whose case is probably more of a slam dunk than Rove's, since most of the activity and many of the suggested witnesses seemed to be out of Cheney's office where they worked more closely with Libby.

With a single-minded prosecution of Libby, Fitzgerald is probably in a better position to push the action and force the rest of the players to turn or incriminate themselves.

Scooter Libby: Lightning Rod

In all the comments from people familiar with Scooter Libby, it’s striking how consistently he is called one of the most meticulous and detail-oriented people they have ever known. So how does one explain the apparent sloppiness of the misleading statements he made to the Grand Jury and FBI investigators? And how does one explain the ridiculous letter he sent to Judy Miller in Prison? If characterizations of him are true, the only explanation is that he wanted to look guilty of something!

So what kind of damage control strategy is consistent with Scooter looking guilty? Here’s one that seems to make sense:

  1. Make the case about perjury and obstruction of justice rather than about national security, or lying about the reasons for war in Iraq. This would explain why Libby was so blatant in his lying, even while alleging that he did nothing wrong. It would also allow the Republicans to use the following methods of spin:
  • Perjury and obstruction of justice are not really crimes unless an underlying crime is charged.
  • After two years of investigation, this is all they can come up with?
  • Well, it’s basically the same thing that Clinton did.
  1. Keep any high profile names from being indicted. Had Karl Rove or Dick Cheney been indicted, the political fallout would have been much greater than Libby being indicted. Rove and Cheney are widely known by everyone, and despised by opponents of the Bush administration. Libby, on the other hand, was a mystery to most people prior to the investigation. By making his actions so much more blatant than Rove or Cheney, it allowed Rove in particular to claim at the last minute that his conflicting statements were due to forgetfulness, and wouldn't be as easy to prove in a court of law as Libby’s.
  1. Keep alive the possibility of a pardon. Politically, it would be very difficult for Bush to pardon someone with as much negative baggage as a Rove or a Cheney. On the other hand, if Bush ends up pardoning Scooter Libby, people are more likely to eventually forget about it. In fact, after a few years pass, the average American won’t remember the difference between Scooter Libby and G. Gordon Liddy, whose despicable role in Watergate has been so forgiven that he’s on a “first letter basis” with Al Franken!
Fortunately, if that’s the strategy and even I can see it, then you can bet that Patrick Fitzgerald can see it too! He knows Libby wanted to take the blame and he gave it to him – HARD! Now he will get to find out how much punishment Libby is willing to take. Fitzgerald says he wants to get this over with as soon as possible so he can sleep in his own bed in Chicago. What does this mean for Libby? It means that he will have to cut a deal or sit in jail at least until the end of 2008, when Bush is leaving office and can issue a pardon without political repercussions. Three years in jail is quite a bit to take for the team, and this creates considerable pressure on Libby to change his mind.

Much has been made about Fitzgerald’s baseball analogy during his statement to the press. I think this analogy, more than anything else he said, foreshadows his intentions in this case. He said that in order to know whether to punish the pitcher for hitting the batter in the head, he needs to know "what was going on in the dugout before the pitch was thrown." If everyone in the dugout was talking about hitting the batter in the head, then the pitcher is guilty, and so are others in the dugout - particularly the manager, who would have primary responsibility if he was involved in the discussions and did not tell the pitcher not to hit the batter in the head. Who is the manager in this analogy? None other than Dick Cheney!

During the course of this trial, Fitzgerald will have the opportunity to find out everything that was going on in the dugout before the pitch was thrown. Cheney was in the dugout. Rove was in the dugout. Lots of other people were in the dugout. And Fitzgerald knows who they are, and probably has some of them who are willing to testify to what was happening in the dugout.

So when Fitzgerald asks Cheney or Rove, under oath, whether anyone in the dugout discussed what Scooter Libby should say to the Grand Jury about the outing of Valerie Plame, Cheney and Rove are going to have tell the truth, or they could be charged with purgery and obstruction as well.

For Fitzgerald, the Libby indictments are just the first pitch of a 9 inning game!

Let Me Just Say...

...that Patrick Fitzgerald is the "best prosecutor ever".

More later.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bush: a Lame Duck gets Avian Flu!

Even before today’s indictment, George W. Bush was, by most standards, already a lame duck president. By riding a staggering string of failures – Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Social Security, Katrina, Harriet Miers, to name just a few – he had clearly depleted any “political capital” he ever had, and was racking up “political debt” at an alarming rate. As President over the last five years, he has basically accomplished little more than to demonstrate that he is to shit what King Midas was to gold. And his approval rating freefall has reflected all of it!

Now comes the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Chief of Staff for the Vice President, which opens the door to a more detailed look at the run up to the Iraq war, and the involvement of the Vice President himself. Additionally, the President’s brain top aide, Karl Rove, and possibly others, are still under investigation. By all interpretations, it is difficult to imagine that the prosecutor would indict a medium-sized fish like Libby, and then extend the investigation to go after the smaller fish. No, he’s got his sights on more serious crimes that would implicate bigger, higher profile, fish, like Hadley, Rice, Bolton, Cheney, and possibly even Bush himself.

In any event, future proceedings threaten to dig even deeper into the intricate web of corruption that Bush and his administration have unleashed on the American people!

With these developments, it appears that George W. Bush’s little lame duck lungs are beginning to fill with bird fluid, and he’s in serious danger of infecting everyone else in the Republican Party. In fact, it’s already happening, as more and more conservatives work themselves into a fever, trying to downplay the seriousness of the charges and deflect blame to an overzealous prosecutor, the democrats, the media, the CIA, Joe Wilson, etc.

Fortunately, so far it appears this virus has not evolved into a form that can be easily transmitted between liberals, and only those like Joe Lieberman, who maintain regular close contact with conservatives, are in immediate danger!

So what’s next? For the safety and security of the country, it seems clear that it is time to quickly start culling all of the potentially infected conservatives from public service! That’s right! Round them all up and kill their political careers! The Delays. The Frists. The Blunts. The Bailey Hutchisons. All of them! Wipe them out of public office, and replace them with a new breed of bird that can be honest with the American people. Replace them with a breed of bird that can show leadership that strives to benefit all segments of society, not just their friends and cronies. Replace them with a breed of bird that can create a bright future not just for themselves and their children, but for all of our children, and our children’s’ children, and so on . . . .

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bush - Less Than Nothing

Remember when Bush right after the 2004 election made the statement at one of his few press conferences - that "He earned political capitol with winning the election" and "now he is going to spend it. Its his style". Ignore the stupidity of the comment after earning only 51% of the vote - hardly a mandate. Ignore the fact that he was talking about his now miserably failed attempt to overhaul Social Security. What is more than obvious today is that Bush after Katrina, Harriet Miers, and Treasongate - has no capitol - never did. Like the woman I saw from New Orleans reacting after the hurricane said, "Before this I had nothing - now I have less than nothing". That is Bush in a nutshell and the trouble is that unlike his failed oil company's, this time his daddy's friends can't bail him out.

So much for an "Upperdown" vote!

You just have to be amazed by the hypocrisy of the far right, as they beat down Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers without even allowing her to be formally considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, much less have the "upperdown" vote to which they insist every nominee is entitled!

Of course, since the Democrats held their fire on Miers, they are positioned perfectly to filibuster the next nominee, if too conservative, while the right will have to come up with a completely different line of argument (to use the term loosly) to support their preferred candidate.

Hell, if I were Harry Reid, I'd be printing up "Remember Harriet" buttons for all the Democrats to wear in the Senate chamber during the hearings on the next nominee!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Breaking News

I - like most are on pins and needles today waiting for any news about indictments - scanning the blogs - feeling that the day of reckoning for this administration is upon us. So I get an email from a friend who is a top executive in San Francisco - an educated and reasonably intelligent citizen. And what does he think is the biggest story today.

"Swoopes Comes Out"

There you go Fox News - lead with that. They probably already have the "Swoopesgate" graphic animation designed.

Just when I was starting to have faith again in the American public.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dumber than Watergate!

If you are speeding along in your car and you notice a red light in your rear view mirror, what is the best way to minimize the potential damage? Do you pull over and politely admit to the officer that you may have been driving a bit too fast, and make a sincere apology while committing to be more careful in the future? Do you pull over and deny that you were speeding and assume that you were just unfortunate to get caught? Or do you step on the gas because you think you are so effective at speeding that you will get away and avoid any repercussions?

In the face of a Bush administration being investigated for the reckless smearing of a political opponent, the current Republican Party appears to be choosing the equivalent of this third option, as they try to minimize the political fallout from possible indictments in the CIA leak investigations. As the Grand Jury approaches its conclusion, Republican operatives are already beginning a massive effort to attack the motives of Patrick Fitzgerald, the reasonableness of his findings, and the reasons for the investigation in the first place.

“He’s a prosecutor run amok, who has expanded beyond the scope of his investigative powers!”

“Any indictments will be on technicalities or misunderstandings, not the actual breaking of any laws!”

“Oh and by the way, Joseph Wilson is a liar, who has smoked pot, and whose wife is mentally ill, and whose swift boat members think he looks French!”

OK. Stop. You win! I’m completely convinced that the Republicans would never do anything to harm someone just because he or she disagrees with them! How silly of me to think so!

Watching this little drama unfold, I can’t help but think about how this current group of Republicans just doesn’t get it. Unlike “Watergate,” when the sheer stupidity of the break-in and subsequent cover up led both parties to insist on investigations that drove out a corrupt administration, these Republicans are going to stick with Bush to the end, fueling a fire that will burn the party to the ground, and then keep scorching the earth beneath them for so long that nothing will ever come back!

After “Watergate,” the Republican party was able to regroup and regain the White House for 16 of the next 28 years. When it's all said and done, these guys are going to cling to the same stupid smear strategy (the only one they seem to know) and be left with so little credibility that for the next couple of decades, they will be lucky to control a prison library!

Monday, October 24, 2005

No Justice Left Behind

Why is it that every child in our public school system has to undergo rigorous standardized testing in order to hold the school districts "accountable". But our Supreme Court nominee gets a do-over. It wouldn't be allowed under "No Child Left Behind" so it shouldn't be allowed for the highest court in the land.

If Harriet Miers needs to fill out her questionnaire again - she should be forced to sit in a hard plastic chair in an un-ventilated classroom - after a meal of corn dogs and chocolate milk. She should get one number two pencil and have one hour to complete it. Then we will see if she is fit for the supreme court.

Left-over but not left-out

Come On Mom and Dad Wake Up

It feels like Christmas morning and I have awakened early, peered down the staircase at the stockings filled with gifts - but mom and dad have decided to sleep in. Come on wake up so we can get this show on the road.

When will Fitzgerald - or I should say- the grand jury - hand down the indictments? The moment he does for me will be sort of a new beginning. For the last 5 years of this administration I have felt like "Left-overs" wrapped in foil forgotten in the back of the fridge.

The fact that this administration will finally be held accountable will restore my faith in this country. The facts are that the majority of us are liberal progressives and we have to speak up.

With this blog I will.

Left-over but not left-out