Libby's rescue by Bush  As you've no doubt already heard shouted from near every rooftop, President Bush has commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence. Specifically, the conviction stands -- the fine and probation stand. Libby just doesn't have to spend a day in prison.

Now, here's the key to this.

There is a conceivable argument --- a very poor one but a conceivable one --- for pardoning Scooter Libby, presumably on the argument that the entire prosecution was political and thus illegitimate. But what conceivable argument does the president have for micromanaging the sentence? To decide that the conviction is appropriate, that probation is appropriate, that a substantial fine is appropriate --- just no prison sentence.

This is being treated in the press as splitting the difference, an elegant compromise. But it is the least justifiable approach. The president has decided that the sentencing guidelines and the opinion of judge don't cut it.

The only basis for this decision is that Libby is the vice president's friend, the vice president rules the president and this was the minimum necessary to keep the man silent.

Once again, Bush is out of touch  SurveyUSA has released a poll done quickly tonight, measuring public reaction to the Libby commutation. The results among those respondents familiar with the case:

• 60% say the prison sentence should have been left in place.

• 21% agree with the commutation.

• 17% say Libby should have been pardoned entirely.

Among respondents, 55% were familiar with the case. And 40% of Republicans said the prison sentence should have been kept in place, along with 77% of Democrats and 56% of independents.

Fecal matter hitting the fan?  Here's our interview (at with Joe Wilson reacting to Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence. From the interview:  "By commuting [Libby's] sentence, [President Bush] has brought himself and his office into reasonable suspicion of participation in an obstruction of justice. The commutation of (Libby's) sentence in and of itself is participation in obstruction of justice."

Not exactly by the book  DOJ manual on Commutations (emphasis added) ...

Section 1-2.113 Standards for Considering Commutation Petitions

A commutation of sentence reduces the period of incarceration; it does not imply forgiveness of the underlying offense, but simply remits a portion of the punishment. It has no effect upon the underlying conviction and does not necessarily reflect upon the fairness of the sentence originally imposed. Requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding.

It ain't over yet  House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) reacts to Bush's move as "inconsistent with the rule of law." And a staffer from his committee tells us that they're looking to have a hearing on this as soon as next week. What the prosecutor says Via Byron York at the Corner, Patrick Fitzgerald's statement ...

We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.

We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as “excessive.” The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.

Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process.

Statement from Barack Obama.

Statement from John Edwards.

Hillary finally releases her statement on Libby ...

"Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."

What you see on TV....   Michael Moore: Well, I actually -- I had a TV show on back in the '90s called TV Nation, and one day I just -- I thought it would be interesting to have like a race. So we sent a camera crew to an emergency room in Fort Lauderdale, a camera crew to an emergency room in Toronto, and then one to Havana. And they would each wait until someone came in with a broken arm or a broken leg. And then they were going to follow that person through and see Healthcare Olympics. And so, it was a race between the US, Canada and Cuba. And to make a long story short, Cuba won. They had the fastest care, the best care, and it cost nothing.

We turn the show in to NBC that week, and we get a call from the censor. They're not called "the censor," they're called Standards & Practices. And so, this woman calls. She's the head of Standards & Practices -- Dr. Somebody. I don't know they -- she actually had a "Dr." before her name, but I forget her last name now. But she calls, and she says, "Mike, Cuba can't win." I said, "What?" "Cuba can't win." "Well, they won. What do you mean they can't win? They won." "No, we can't say that on NBC. We can't say that Cuba won." "Well, yeah, but they won! They provided the fastest care. They were the cheapest. And the patient was happy, and the bone got fixed." "No, it's against regulations here." I said, "Oh, well, I'm not changing it."

Well, they changed it. They changed it. Two days later, when it aired, they changed it so that Canada won. And Canada didn't win. Canada almost won, but they charged the guy $15 for some crutches on the way out. So it's bugged me to this day that anybody who saw that episode, you know, where it said, you know, "and Canada won the Healthcare Olympics," and in fact it was Cuba, but that couldn't be said on NBC, because God knows what would happen.

Barack Obama appears to have broken the record for quarterly fundraising in a primary, pulling in a whopping $30 million over the last three months. That and other political news of the day in today's Election Central Sunday Roundup.

Ha!  She admits it! Coulter talking to O'Reilly: "I'm more of a man than any liberal."

Neocon media vs British media Reader JS checks in from Bangkok ...

Your link to Andrew Sullivan's blog and the media coverage of the Glasgow events prompted me to write again.

I am in the last day of business meetings in Bangkok, and have been watching the media response with great interest. My hotel TV offers both CNN and BBC news coverage, and the difference between them is remarkable. When the Glasgow attack became known, CNN offered non-stop coverage which preempted all normal programming. The attackers were defined in no uncertain terms as Al-Quaeda members, despite any conclusive evidence of same. In stark contrast, BBC offered quite detailed coverage of the attack, but continued with normal programming covering weather, sports, international affairs, etc. BBC was quite careful not to ascribe any specific Al-Quaeda membership, and seemed to be more comfortable describing the attackers as "influenced by other Al-Quaeda types". CNN created the image of a major world crisis, while BBC presented an isolated but obviously troubling event.

I would respectfully posit that such coverage by most of our American Mainstream Media is why the Bush Administration has been able to so easily play with the fears and emotions of Americans.

Economics folly  Jared Bernstein lists 5 reasons economists still compete with weathermen for accuracy kudos. (My theory is that God made economists so that astrologers and tarot card readers wouldn't look so bad. --RK)

NYC firefighters: we'll sink Rudy's campaign.

Even wingnuts hate him Bush sinks to record low in Fox News poll. Why are we no longer shocked by this? The Fox poll also asked what may be the most insanely jingoistic question ever in a Fox survey -- and the answer was even more startling.

That should go over well. (from the AP ...)

Hed: Bush cites Israel as model for Iraq

President Bush held up Israel as a model for defining success in Iraq, saying Thursday the U.S. goal there is not to eliminate attacks but to enable a democracy that can function despite violence.

With his Iraq policy under increasing criticism from the public and lawmakers in both parties, Bush went to the U.S. Naval War College to declare progress and plead for patience. At the same time, his top national security went to Capitol Hill to hear out Republican critics.

We'll have succeded in Iraq when it's like Israel. Where do they come up with these guys? Which speech writer wrote that? Sometimes stupidity rises to the level of a high crime.

Rudy on Iraq:  Whaaaaat??   About a week ago, TPMtv featured a revealing video montage of Rudy Giuliani going to almost comical lengths to duck the issue of Iraq. A leading presidential candidate, on the dominant issue of the day, simply doesn't want to talk about it -- and hasn't for the last year or so. With that in mind, I was encouraged to see a transcript the Wall Street Journal published over the weekend of a Giuliani interview with the paper's editorial board. The WSJ's editors, to their credit, seemed intent on getting some sense of the former mayor's thoughts on the war. It's a shame they came up empty.

The transcript is worth reading, if for no other reason than to enjoy the constant use of the phrase "on offense." Giuliani demonstrated confusion about de-Baathification, repeatedly compared Iraq to New York City, and said national polls would show stronger support for the war if only pollsters would use the word "retreat" in the questions. All in all, the former mayor's responses lacked a certain, shall we say, sophistication.

Consider this exchange:

WSJ: [Y]ou would give Petraeus all the time he needs?

Giuliani: Sure, if I thought he was right. I had a similar, on a lesser scale, issue with the police department or the fire department or whatever.

Or perhaps this illuminating question and response:

WSJ: So six months out and you're on the campaign trail. The results of the surge are inconclusive, but Petraeus says "I can use more time" and you're taking a beating for it, what are you going to say?

Giuliani: If I believe that General Petraeus is right, then I take the beating and you try to explain it to people. I think the American people in November 2008 are going to select the person they think is strongest to defend America against Islamic terrorism. And it is not going to just focus on -- as some of the media wants it -- just Iraq.

Yes, it's that darned media's fault Americans want presidential candidates to talk about a tragic war and how they'd handle it. If only journalists would stop asking these pesky questions, Giuliani wouldn't have to go to such lengths to dodge them.

Submitted by RKing on