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Friday, December 28, 2007

Chuck Norris approved this message

My brother Ben has been discussing Mike Huckabee's tax-reform plan over on his blog.

I happen to like Mike Huckabee, although he's got absolutely no chance of winning the election. I liked him even before I saw his latest campaign ad:

My readers will probably appreciate this link, too. I cannot explain why Comedy Central is doing the best political coverage on television.


Panic said...

You LIKE Huckabee? Dude, DUDE. He let a rapist free, because he thought the rapist had been "framed" by his nemesis, Clinton. Said rapist went on to rape again, but upped the ante to murder.

I don't give a SHIT about someone's ideas on taxes after that.

Panic said...

Sorry, that link went all wonky, but I suspect you've already heard about this anyway. You seem like a very "in-the-know" sort of person.

Anyway, here it is again, in smaller form! :)

Megan said...

Hi, Panic!

This whole "pardon the felon" thing doesn't come up in Canada, and I must say, it seems really weird.

We have a parole board that decides whether people get out: politicians aren't part of it. In fact, we just had a very high-profile offender who did NOT get parole from the board. (Robert Latimer was convicted of second-degree murder after killing his daughter in what everyone recognises as a mercy killing, although I am not really one of his supporters.)

Pardons are also issued by the National Parole Board. You apply for them three years after you complete your sentence. Again, politicians aren't part of it.

I don't see why any politician would pardon any felon. It seems that the political risks would be too high. Can any Americans out there explain this to me?

Panic said...

I'm Canadian too, so I know of what you speak! :)
I just have a lot of American friends who keep up on this sort of thing. Though, in Huckabee's case, the guy wasn't pardoned, but rather let out of prison very early. It's worth taking a look at that link for more.
From what I gather, Huckabee did it as a "fuck you" to Clinton. Which is weird enough. As the governor, I guess he's able to make those decisions (like a governor is able to decide on a stay of execution, or similar).

Also, with all this right-wing, Christian stuff he's about, it doesn't really surprise me all that much that the thought of women getting raped didn't weigh too heavily on him. I don't know if the political risks are so high, given the party he's in. If this were a Dem, maybe. The GOP is pretty well-known for not giving a shit about women's safety.

Sorry, this stuff really bothers me.

Anonymous said...

The executive branch (president, governors) has this power of pardon, as a sort of a last resort "check" on the judicial branch's power to impose sentences on our citizens. The American system is devoted to the concept of "checks and balances", to a greater degree than the Canadian/ parliamentary system.
The pardons given by executives are not reviewed, so they have no "check". Perhaps this is why they provide so rich a mine for campaign criticism and innuendo. Bush '41 defeated Mike Dukakis in large part because the governor made a similar pardon in Massachusetts. Now it's Mike Huckabee's turn to face the fire. Political parties have very little to do with this. It's not a left-wing / right-wing issue.
No one's pardons were so suspicious, or more heavily criticized, than the last minute pardons of President Bill Clinton.
For my part, I'm glad there are executive pardons. I'm hoping to get one for myself.


Anonymous said...

Megan, you asked the motivation for executive pardons, given the high political cost.
I think governors grant pardons because judges, being human, can make mistakes, and governors, being human, are good and merciful.

Panic said...

Given the circumstances after this release, and the huge amount of evidence that this guy would re-offend, (and he did, he raped and murdered at least one more woman upon release), there is nothing "good and merciful" about Huckabee's actions.

Megan said...

Anon 1:44, I've removed your double post.

These American pardons have always seemed very odd to me. I don't understand why any politician would put his career in the hands of a convicted criminal. Re-offending rates are uncomfortably high. I definitely wouldn't stake my career on anyone in a federal prison.

Anonymous said...

Megan, Governor Mitt Romney took that cautious approach, and made very few pardons (or none). Governor George W Bush was notorious for the same caution. Governor Huckabee took more chances.

panic, I have to disagree. Obviously, Huckabee made a grievous mistake, but he is not a demon. No one would knowingly pardon a man who was certain or very likely to commit more violence.

Kevin Holsapple

Panic said...

Huckabee knew the risks, and he'd read the evidence. He's either completely stupid, or so blinded by politics that he'd rather maneouver than do what's right. Politicians do really, really henious things all the time. People die every day from the decisions they make. Some of them have been so absolutely hardened, in the pursuit of power, that the little people don't matter at all. I wish I could see the world in the nicer way that you do, but reality is not a very friendly place.

Anonymous said...

You know, Chuck actually seems like a pretty laid-back guy. Funny the difference between his actual manner and how people describe him...

The Capitalist said...

I cannot see any possible motive for pardoning someone without truly thinking they will not re-offend. Then again, it's also a little strange that a governor would think he knows more about a case than the judge/jury who made the ruling, unless new evidence came out. Either way, it doesn't make Huckabee evil, but it does highlight a case where he exercised poor judgement.

Torq said...


I don't disagree with you on the idea that politicians can become hardened and thus can end up making poor decisions for to public. However, I cannot agree that Huckabee's pardoning someone was a callous act in which the lives of the "little people" did not matter at all. Really the felon is one of your "little people" and it seems highly unlikely that freeing a convicted rapist is going to improve his status with any group. More likely this was a attempt at mercy which went horribly wrong.

I think that part of what really hardens politicians is that they are required to make very difficult decisions all the time. I got a big kick out of a couple of my friends who insisted that I read a new book called Manufacturing Consent which discusses the use of political power and propaganda. So I read the book, and it was decent, but it did not say anything which Machiavelli didn't say. However, it is important to realize that Huckabee's actions went against the quest for power. Machiavelli would teach us that all political mercy is folly.

Panic said...

Hey Torq,
I think the common misconception here, is that Huckabee released this guy (he wasn't pardoned; to pardon means to erase and expunge his former record, does it not? The felon was simply released 25 years before his sentence was up) from some compassionate place. Several comments say as much, yours included.

From the linked article:
In 1996, as a newly elected governor who had received strong support from the Christian right, Huckabee was under intense pressure from conservative activists to pardon Dumond [the felon in question] or commute his sentence. The activists claimed that Dumond's initial imprisonment and various other travails were due to the fact that Ashley Stevens, the high school cheerleader he had raped, was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton, and the daughter of a major Clinton campaign contributor.

Torq said...

You have intrigued me enough to read the article.

...So really Huckabee did not commute the sentence or pardon this guy at all. A parole board did. Your article indicates that Huckabee was supportive of an early release and then implies that this was the cause of the felon's release. This is not really solid reasoning.

Furthermore your article states that upon a request from the paper to release information regarding requests for clemency for the felon they replied, "'We don't release comments for or against a clemency application or a parole case,' the (Parole) Board's spokesperson told Huffington Post, 'except when they are comments from public officials.'" The governor is certainly a public official and so this comment makes no sense if any such comment or request had been made by Huckabee.

Don't get me wrong, I am not supporting Huckabee. I am not really all that interested in the who's and what's of politics. I was just curious enough to read the article and it doesn't seem that all of the facts add up to the picture the author of this article wanted to paint.

Consider me a devil's advocate if you like.

Torq said...

I think the confusion about pardoning this felon arose from the comment "He let a rapist free, because he thought the rapist had been "framed" by his nemesis, Clinton. Said rapist went on to rape again, but upped the ante to murder."

I guess that I am not clear on how Huckabee "let him free."

Meg: Sorry for posting twice like this, but I got all confused and didn't straighten my head out until after I posted the first time.

Megan said...

No worries, Torq.

Capitalist: I don't know how much information governors have when they make this decision, but I would imagine that they have the same information our National Parole Board has. This is not more "evidence" about guilt or innocence, but it is certainly more information about the offender.

The offender's prison file includes a ton of information about how he behaved in jail. Some, like Robert Latimer, are model prisoners. Others are violent and dangerous to everyone around them.

Anonymous said...

(I hope Panic doesn't think we're piling on here.)
Like Torq, I am not supporting Huckabee. I am supporting a more realistic view of politicians as ordinary human beings. Ordinary human beings are flawed, but basically good. Moral monsters do exist, but monsters are rare, by definition.

I think these candidates are all humans. My glasses are not rose-colored! I see them all as flawed, but good, just like the rest of us. As a matter of fact, I believe that these candidates are a little bit better than the rest of us. They certainly work harder, and suffer more abuse!


Megan said...

No, we LOVE Panic.

Panic said...

Ha ha, thanks for the love Megan. :)

Yeah, I never said Huckabee pardoned the guy. People made that leap all on their own, though my wording could have been better at the beginning. Though who knew it would turn into all this?!

Ben Holsapple said...

I don't think I know of any "moral monsters" in the current political field, but even without rose-colored glasses, I have a certain amount of distrust for anyone who makes his or her living by telling people what they want to hear.

Politicians certainly do work harder and suffer more abuse, but this is one of those fields where success should lead to suspicion. I am immediately skeptical of any candidate who actually has a following; it is only the people who aren't supported that you can trust to stick with what they say.

Unless they're still slimy, and just too incompetent to realize what people want them to say...but I highly doubt that anyone who makes it to a presidential election is incompetent - regardless of popular opinion of our current president.

The Capitalist said...

Well, lets not say they 'work harder', lets just say they 'talk better'.

And Ben, how can you say you don't know of any 'moral monsters'? Aren't you familiar with a man by the name of George W. Bush? The real mastermind behind the 9/11 attack... The man responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians just because Saddam put a hit out on his daddy. No Blood For Oil!

Torq said...

*grins* really it is only because Panic raised such an interesting question that we are all getting involved in this conversation.

Capitalist: I am not touching that comment with a ten foot pole!

Anonymous said...

You think George W is a monster? He's an amateur! I can remember when Richard Nixon stalked the earth. That guy used to napalm Vietnamese babies, just to help his oil company friends could sell the Pentagon more jellied gasoline!


Anonymous said...


Keep in mind that our generation's public school history classes did not usually include anything past WWII. What we know about Korea, Vietnam, and Watergate comes from people like you who are willing to educate us.

W. may be an amateur, but I still think that makes him a monster.

Anonymous said...

Oh my! I don't quite have the internet communication skills I need to blog with Megan and the gang. I was actually being sarcastic; Richard Nixon was accused of being a monster, but in fact he was probably the twentieth century's best president. He signed a peace treaty with North Vietnam, he cleaned up the water and the air, he reduced the threat of nuclear annihilation, and he established diplomatic relations between the US and a billion Chinese.
ALL THE TIME he was called a baby-killing monster. His reward: ignomy. That's politics!

Karen said...

Not everyone "recognizes" what Robert Latimer did was a "mercy killing". Some of us in fact think he got off rather lightly, considering he planned and carried out a deliberate, methodical execution of a dependent, disabled child. Some of us might even call that first-degree murder. Our Criminal Code does, and yet he wasn't convicted of that by his jury. Surely, if he had killed his able bodied child is such a manner, I doubt anyone would be rushing to excuse him or his horrifying actions. His daughter's disability did not make it OK for her to be murdered.