MILWAUKEE (Legal Newsline) – Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. has accused District Attorney John Chisholm, a fellow Democrat, of “abuse of prosecutorial power” in the relentless criminal investigation of Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and 29 conservative groups. Clarke’s forceful public criticism is of Chisholm and the so-called “John Doe” investigation that Chisholm has pursued since 2010 against Walker, his staff and virtually every conservative advocacy group in the state. Clarke, who has been sheriff since 2002 and is running for re-election on Tuesday as the Democratic nominee, has been elected and re-elected with heavy support both from […]
When John McCain and many other Republicans ask, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" there is an implication that maybe he is somehow sinister or extremist.
I don’t believe that. But I do think that there are two very different Obamas. Both are extraordinarily intelligent, serene under pressure, and driven by an admirable social conscience — albeit as willing to deploy deception as the next politician. But while the first Obama would be a well-meaning failure, the second could become a great president.
An ultraliberal in moderate garb? The first Obama has sometimes seemed eager to engineer what he called "redistribution of wealth" in a 2001 radio interview, along with the more conventional protectionism, job preferences, and other liberal Democratic dogmas featured in his campaign. I worry that he might go beyond judiciously regulating our free enterprise system’s all-too-apparent excesses and stifle it under the dead hand of government bureaucracy and lawsuits.
This redistributionist Obama has stayed in the background since he set his sights on the presidency years ago, except when he told Joe the Plumber that his tax plan would help "spread the wealth." This Obama seems largely invisible to many supporters. But he may retain some attachment to the radical-leftist sensibility in which — as his impressive 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, explains with reflective detachment — he was marinated as a youth and young man.
Obama spent much of his teenage years searching for his black identity. He was mentored for a time by the poet Frank Marshall Davis, a black-power activist who had once been a member of the Communist Party, and who was (according to Obama’s book) "living in the same Sixties time warp" as Obama’s mother, a decidedly liberal free spirit.
Weeks of brooding over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Michelle Obama eruptions have severely shaken the hope I expressed in January: "If Barack Obama can show he is tough enough and pragmatic enough to win the presidency and serve with distinction, it would be the best thing that could happen to America and the world."
What should we learn about Obama’s judgment and fortitude from the fact that he sat passively in the pews for 20 years and gave money and took his children while Wright, his friend and "spiritual adviser," spewed far-left, America-hating, white-bashing, conspiracy-theorizing, loony, "God damn America" vitriol from the pulpit?
This concern is not entirely dispelled by Obama’s shifting explanations, including his mostly admirable March 18 speech about Wright and the issue of race.
Also disturbing is the bleak picture of America painted by Obama’s closest adviser, his wife, Michelle, in highly newsworthy comments, most of which the media have chosen to ignore.
Her stunning February 18 statement that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country" did get some attention, but just two mentions buried in The Washington Post and three buried in the news columns of The New York Times. The news columns of both papers, and almost all others, have ignored Michelle Obama’s assertions that this country is "just downright mean" and "guided by fear"; that "our souls are broken"; and that most Americans’ lives have "gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl."
Back in 1998, when I was excoriating President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice, I had plenty of Republican company. This, my Republican friends and I agreed, was serious business.
But some Clinton-bashing conservatives have reacted rather differently to the alleged grand jury perjuries, lies to the FBI, and obstruction of justice for which I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, stands indicted.
These conservatives go beyond claiming that the evidence that Libby lied is weak — which is fair game, albeit unpersuasive (in my view) — to trivializing any cover-up as not very serious anyway. They remind me of the many Democrats who trivialized Clinton’s multiple perjuries and suborning of perjury as mere "lying about sex."
These days, the leader of the who-cares-about-perjury pack is The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page — the "Daily Diatribe of the American Right," as it was called in the headline of a 1989 American Lawyer piece (by me).
In 1998, The Journal saw criminal cover-ups — even of matters that were not themselves crimes — as a big deal. "The latest Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky is titillating because of sex," The Journal editorialized then, "but it derives its legal and political importance from the issues of perjury and obstruction of justice."
Back then, other respected conservatives — Mary Matalin and William Kristol, for example — were even more emphatic about what Matalin called Clinton’s "perjury, suborning perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy." They have a far more dismissive view of the evidence of high-level lies underpinning the indictment of Libby and the near-indictment of Karl Rove.
Comes now Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a man not known for legal acuity, with a threat to prosecute The New York Times and other news media for publishing leaks of classified information.
Gonzales, who launched a major investigation late last year into such leaks, claimed in a May 21 ABC News interview that Congress has made a "policy judgment" that in some circumstances journalists should be prosecuted for publishing classified information.
This assertion is misleading at best. The 89-year-old espionage law to which Gonzales was mainly referring was not intended to prosecute anybody for publishing anything and has never been so used. This is an administration that has not hesitated to leak classified information that makes it look good — but calls it criminal for others to publish leaks that make it look bad.
Its most bitter complaints have been aimed at the Pulitzer-Prize-winning disclosure by The New York Times on December 16 of President Bush’s previously secret, warrantless eavesdropping program. Some serious scholars see that program as violating criminal provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I don’t, because the murkiness of the legal issues may absolve Bush of criminal intent.
But exposing arguably illegal presidential activities is what the First Amendment freedoms of speech and press are all about. Bush is a shameless demagogue for denouncing as a "shameful act" the exposure of his own circumvention (if not violation) of FISA.
Someone should tell Gonzales and Bush that the relevant congressional "policy judgment" here — one shared by the Constitution’s Framers — is that the president is not a law unto himself.
Perhaps the most depressing thing about the CIA leak investigation consuming official Washington is that — regardless of whether crimes have been committed — so many of the principal players on all sides have been guilty of petty, ignoble and (in some cases) less-than-honest conduct.
It is said that every country has the government it deserves. Do we really deserve to have Republican and Democratic administrations alike meet their critics less with factual refutation than with indiscriminate, often mendacious attacks on the critics’ credibility, character, and motivations? Are the American people so averse to what Learned Hand called "the intolerable labor of thought" that the surest way to win their votes is to resort to crude character assassination? Or have our leaders let the transitory joys of mudslinging blind them to the strategic advantage of showing some class?
President Bush’s assertion on Tuesday that "we’ll get to the bottom of this and move on" has the ring of wishful thinking. This scandal is going to roil the White House for quite a while. That prediction holds even if — as seems reasonably likely — the "senior administration officials" who allegedly sought to discredit, or spite, a whistle-blower by telling reporters that his wife worked for the CIA were unaware that she was a covert agent, and thus committed no crime.
Here we go again. Another criminal-congressional tag-team crew investigating Bill Clinton. This time, it’s to determine not whether he lied under oath about sex-which Clinton essentially admitted at long last on Jan. 19-but whether, on the very next day, he sold a pardon, or two, or a few before he left office.
"The narcissism and duplicity of Chavez’s [Jan. 9] press conference announcing her withdrawal … was simply staggering…. She trotted out a gaggle of immigrant admirers to offer staged testimonials about her history of assisting those in need…. Even the Bush team had abandoned the absurd pretense that Marta Mercado was not Linda Chavez’s employee…. You shouldn’t exploit [illegal immigrants]…. What’s more, rather than tell the Bush team the truth … she lied." -The New Republic
"Reasonable people would call a two-year houseguest who is not a relative and who vacuums, does laundry, looks after the kids, and receives free room and board and spending money a maid. But Ms. Chavez had insisted that Marta Mercado … was a needy charity case…. [Chavez] telephoned a former neighbor, presumably to coach her on what to say about Ms. Mercado [to] FBI agents…. The law is quite clear. Harboring an illegal alien is a felony." -The New York Times
"As one online political wag put it, is this the definition of compassionate conservatism, to bring illegal immigrants into your house, put them to work, and then not pay them?" -Los Angeles Times
These are some of the things they said about Linda Chavez as her nomination to be Labor Secretary was going up in smoke. For giving from 1991-93 what liberals used to call "sanctuary" to a battered and depressed illegal immigrant from Guatemala who clearly was a needy charity case, the conservative Chavez has now been smeared as an exploiter, a criminal, a liar, and a hypocrite.