Thursday, June 7, 2007

Libby, Hilton and Law

Well, Scooter Libby has been convicted and is now appealing his conviction and his sentence. It must be nice to have such powerful and influential friends to appear as "character" witnesses. My only question is "What in the hell does Kissinger's opinion of Libby's character have to do with anything?" Or any of the other witnesses detailed in's article. The man has been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. It doesn't matter if his family, friends, and business associates found him to be a good man in their dealings with him. Those dealings had nothing to do with perjury and obstruction. I am cynical enough that I am surprised that he got two and a half years. I am too used to people in his position getting off with slaps on the wrist.

I remember having similar thoughts listening to the accounts of the pre-sentencing hearings for former Illinois governor Jim Ryan. He had a parade of witnesses attesting to what a great man he was. Almost all of them were anti-death penalty advocates who thought the world of his commutations for death row inmates and the moratorium he placed on the death penalty. As much as I favor his actions in that matter, I fail to see what his actions in that case had to do with his conviction for corruption. And why should that be a mitigating factor in the sentence a judge would hand down for the conviction on corruption?

Poor little Paris Hilton actually suffered through a day and a night in jail. Now, according to MSNBC, her sentence has been commuted to 40 days house arrest with a tracking anklet. How nice it must be to have a famous name, money, an expensive lawyer, and a tame psychiatrist on retainer. Anyone I know who had a DUI (with a probation), a conviction for driving on a suspended license while on probation from the DUI, and a conviction for driving without a license would have had the book thrown at them. Our mental fragility would have failed to impress any judge we would have faced and we couldn't afford the kind of attorney and psychiatrist that would manage to manipulate the system to get us off.

Once upon a time we used to boast that no one was above the law and many of us actually believed it was true. I haven't heard that boast in a very long time. But then I shouldn't be so surprised. We have a President who has done his best to make his office above the law for himself and whoever might follow him and to make it the supreme branch of government beyond effective oversight from the once co-equal legislative and judicial branches. If a President, who after all is just a man (whether God talks to him or not), is above the law why shouldn't others also be above the law. Laws it seems are merely advisory, effective only when the police are present and not occupied with other matters, or for those without money and connections.

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