Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Florida Man Kills Neighbors, Cites “Stand Your Ground” and “Bush Doctrine” as Defenses

Florida man William Woodward “snuck up” on three of his neighbors and unleashed a campaign of shock and awe on their Labor Day barbecue in the form of over fifty rounds, killing two and severely injuring (with eleven shots) a third person.

Now his lawyers have cited not only the state’s Stand Your Ground law, but also President George W. Bush’s pre-emptive war in Iraq and the Bush Doctrine as a defense.

In their motion, Woodward’s attorneys claimed that the victims had called him names and threatened to “get him.”

The motion referenced Enoch V. [sic] State, which suggests that an “imminent” threat can include something that is likely to occur at sometime in the future.

“I think legally that term has sort of been evolving especially given changes of our government’s definition of ‘imminent,’” attorney Robert Berry, who is representing Woodward, told Florida Today. “It’s become more expansive than someone putting a gun right to your head. It’s things that could become, you know, an immediate threat.”

You really can’t fault the attorneys for the obvious use of Stand Your Ground, even if it was the neighbor’s ground. After the outcome of the Zimmerman case, we understand that the law stands for the proposition that you can stalk someone to provoke them into confronting you, and then you can kill them. But the Bush Doctrine? That’s ingenious.

The court document filed by the defense also cited “The Bush Doctrine,” a foreign policy principle used by President George W. Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq. “The Bush Doctrine” embraces “preventive” or pre-emptive war.

If the Bush Doctrine taught us anything, it is that one does not leave possible threats out there. “Imminent threat” now means “something that might happen in the future” just as “no duty to retreat” means “You can hunt down unarmed people and shoot the shit out of them on their own property.”

 

Read more at http://wonkette.com/527578/florida-man-cites-bush-doctrine-after-shooting-neighbors-judge-undecided-on-whether-dick-cheney-can-testify#suhVpcXxHpoDBrf4.99

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Barbara Bush: Hillary Should Run

Hillary Clinton 1

Hillary Clinton 1 (Photo credit: Angela Radulescu)

President George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara has said that she would like to see Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016.

Bush, 31, called Clinton “unbelievably accomplished” in an interview with People magazine, but said that she couldn’t say that she would vote for the former Secretary of State. “I don’t know who she’d be running against,” she said.

Barbara Bush’s uncle, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, is considered a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016.

 

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/bush-daughter-hillary-clinton-2016-should-run-95578.html#ixzz2cCCB7jCa

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Barbour’s 200 Pardons Conferred on the White, Well-Connected, and Well-Funded

Gov. Haley Barbour

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This month, Mississippi’s governor, Haley Barbour, pardoned 198 people as he left office.

Mr. Barbour issued ten times as many pardons as his four predecessors combined. Among them were four murderers who worked at the Governor’s Mansion and Brett Favre’s brother, who killed a friend in a drunken-driving accident.

A close look at some of the clemency applications of the pardoned reveals that a significant share contained appeals from members of prominent Mississippi families, major Republican donors, or others from the higher social strata of Mississippi life.

The governor erased records or suspended the sentences of at least ten felons who had been students at the University of Mississippi or Mississippi State when they were arrested, including at least three who killed people while driving drunk and several others charged with selling cocaine and ecstasy. Another pardon went to the grandson of a couple who once lived near Mr. Barbour’s family in his hometown, Yazoo City.

One beneficiary, who killed an eight-month-old boy in an alcohol-induced crash in 2001, is a member of the prominent Hill Brothers Construction Company family, big-money political donors who give mostly to Republicans, including Mr. Barbour. The man’s uncle sought and received a pardon from President George W. Bush in 2006, erasing a federal income tax conviction.

Mr. Barbour declined to comment on the pardons. His spokesperson said that in 95% of the cases, the governor went along with the recommendation of the parole board he had appointed. In some cases, the governor granted pardons that the board unanimously opposed.

In a state with the highest poverty rate in the nation, where nearly 70% of convicts are black, redemption appears to have been attained disproportionately by white people and the well connected.

Via The New York Times.

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Roger Ebert on the Death Penalty

English: Harris County, Texas Jury Assembly

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At his blog, Roger Ebert has given a fascinating account of his view on the death penalty (and why he decided to write about the topic). I strongly urge you to click over here to check it out, but I will reproduce bits of it (with significant editing) below.

The following appeared in an article in The Guardian:

Twelve of the last 13 people condemned to death in Harris County, Texas were black. After Texas itself, Harris County is the national leader in its number of executions.

Over one third of Texas’s 305 death row inmates – and half of the state’s 121 black death row prisoners – are from Harris County.

One of those African Americans, Duane Buck, was sentenced based on the testimony of an expert psychologist who maintained that blacks are prone to violence. In 2008, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal resigned after sending an email message titled ‘fatal overdose,’ featuring a photo of a black man lying on the ground surrounded by watermelons and a bucket of chicken.

White people are also executed at an efficient pace in Texas. The odds of being given the death penalty in that state are fearsome, and the chances of having your sentence overturned on appeal are dismaying. So far, Governor Rick Perry has declined to commute the sentences of 235 condemned prisoners. During Gov. George W. Bush’s time in office, Texas executed 152 prisoners, more than any other governor in modern American history, until Gov. Perry.

In 2000, Illinois Governor George Ryan, a Republican, declared a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois, commuting 160 death sentences to life sentences. Gov. Ryan believed execution was right in the case of “heinous crimes” but noted that during his first year in office, “thirteen people were released from jail after appealing their convictions based on new evidence.” He said, “The possibility that we would be executing an innocent man made it impossible for me to sleep at night.”

Gov. Ryan’s reason for declining to enforce the death penalty is enough. Traditionally, executions have been viewed as punishment: If an eye for an eye, then why not a life for a life? In recent America, history the argument is used that they will act as a deterrent, although few murders are prevented as a result. In some cases, more people die, because if one victim is unintentionally killed in the process of a crime, more are likely to be killed to eliminate possible witnesses. The death penalty acts as a reason to kill.

Do you, do I, feel better when a killer is executed? Why should we? What good does the execution do for the killer’s victim? Do family members feel vindicated? Some do, some do not, and in any event their feelings are not a justification for public policy. If the taking of life is wrong, then it is wrong in all cases.

If an execution takes place in an atmosphere of great care and caution, there is some reason for Society to feel confident a guilty man is dying. In a state like Texas and a county like Harris, there is little reason to be sure of that. It is impossible that the judicial system functions with 100% accuracy.

Werner Herzog‘s recent documentary “Into the Abyss” concerns two young men who were in prison. Michael Perry was on Death Row in Huntsville, and on the day Mr. Herzog spoke with him, had eight days to live. Jason Burkett, his accomplice in the murders of three people, was serving a forty-year sentence. They killed because they wanted to drive a friend’s red Camaro. Why did Mr. Perry have to die but not Mr. Burkett, when both were convicted of the same crimes? In the film, Mr. Herzog speaks with Mr. Burkett’s father, Delbert, who is also in prison serving a life sentence. At his son’s trial, he blamed himself for the boy’s worthless upbringing. His regret influenced two jurors to pity the son. It was Michael Perry’s bad luck to lack an equally compelling witness. That is how death and life were meted out in Huntsville.

The most spellbinding passage in the film involves Captain Fred Allen, who was in charge of the guard detail on Huntsville’s Death Row. Cap. Allen and his detail were responsible for guarding the convicted prisoners, enforcing Death Row rules, arranging visits, serving last meals, walking with them down the Last Mile, and supervising the machinery of execution. In a few cases, the guards grew close to some prisoners.

Even though he interviewed each of his subjects on camera only once, Mr. Herzog has success in drawing them out and getting them to trust him as someone they could confide in. The director remains almost entirely off-screen, with his subjects looking directly at the camera. Cap. Allen explains that after sixteen years as a prison guard, he resigned, forfeiting all his vested interest in the state pension system. Cap. Allen’s monologue is an impassioned prose. This transcript is not directly from the movie but is very close:

I was just working in the shop and all of a sudden something just triggered in me and I started shaking. And then I walked back into the house and my wife asked ‘What’s the matter?’ and I said ‘I don’t feel good.’ And tears — uncontrollable tears — was coming out of my eyes. And she said ‘What’s the matter?’ And I said ‘I just thought about that execution that I did two days ago, and everybody else’s that I was involved with.’ And what it was something triggered within and it just – everybody — all of these executions all of a sudden all sprung forward.

It’s just like taking slides in a film projector and having a button and just pushing a button and just watching, over and over: him, him, him. I don’t know if it’s mental breakdown, I don’t know if . . . probably would be classified more as a traumatic stress, similar to what individuals in war had. You know, they’d come back from war, it might be three months, it might be two years, it might be five years, all of a sudden they relive it again, and all that has to come out. You see I can barely even talk because I’m thinking more and more of it. You know, there was just so many of ‘em.

My main concern is right now is these other individuals [guards]. I hope that this doesn’t happen to them — the ones that participate, the ones that go through this procedure now. And I will say honestly — and I believe very sincerely — somewhere down the line something is going to trigger. Everybody has a stopping point. Everybody has a certain level. That’s all there is to it.”

Then Captain Fred Allen, who walked into the death chamber with more than 100 prisoners, concludes by giving voice to the strongest argument against the death penalty: “Nobody has the right to take another life.”

Via Roger Ebert’s Journal.

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Republican Candidates Tell The New York Times Their View of the Presidency

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As they advocate for limited government, the Republican Presidential candidates hold expansive views about the scope of the executive powers they would wield if elected.

 

As Republicans prepare to select their 2012 Presidential nominee, Newt Gingrich, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have detailed their views on executive power in response to questions posed by The New York Times, which has published their responses online.

 

Most of them see the commander-in-chief as having the authority to take extraordinary actions if he decides doing so is necessary to protect national security. Only Mr. Paul argued for a more limited view of Presidential power.

 

The other four candidates echoed expansive legal theories advanced by President George W. Bush. In significant ways, they dovetailed as well with the posture taken by President Obama since taking office.

 

Asked to describe the circumstances under which the Constitution permits a President to order the targeted killing of a citizen who has not been sentenced to death by a court, Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Huntsman, Mr. Perry and Mr. Romney said that a President could order the killing of a citizen who joins an enemy force that is at war with the U.S.

 

The Obama administration embraced similar reasoning as the basis for a drone strike in Yemen this year that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen.

 

Mr. Paul described the circumstances in which a President could order the extrajudicial killing of a citizen: “None.” Similarly, while Mr. Paul said that a President should not order a military attack without Congressional permission unless there was an imminent threat, the other four candidates agreed that a President could do so.

 

Mr. Gingrich in particular has taken an assertive view about the scope of the Presidency, saying Presidents may lawfully ignore Supreme Court rulings.

 

Presidential power has grown since the early years of the cold war and ratcheted forward under the Bush administration. As a candidate, Sen. Obama accused Pres. Bush of undermining the Constitution.

 

After taking office, Pres. Obama ordered adherence to antitorture rules; justified counterterrorism policies as authorized by Congress and consistent with international law; and sought to handle terrorism cases that arise on domestic soil exclusively through the criminal justice system and not the military.

Via The New York Times.

 

 

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Karl Rove Attacks Elizabeth Warren as Cozy with Wall Street

English: Karl Rove Assistant to the President,...

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In an interview with Lawrence O’Donnell, Elizabeth Warren uncorked a response to that dishonest ad from the Karl Rove-founded Crossroads GPS attacking her as cozy with Wall Street. Her answer is worth quoting.

Ms. Warren mocked the claim that she’s cozy with Wall Street and pointed out that the ad is funded by wealthy interests that don’t want to see her in the Senate. She seized on Karl Rove to tell the story of the Bush administration’s role in exacerbating the lack of Wall Street accountability that’s become the rationale of her career and candidacy:

Their strategy now is the kitchen sink strategy. Throw everything you can at her and let’s see what happens.

Let’s keep in mind what was going on just a little over three years ago. Karl Rove was part of the inner circle while George W. Bush is telling Congress and the nation, `we’ve gotta bail out the big financial institutions.’ His Secretary of the Treasury is handing out money to the largest financial institutions — no strings attached. I go down to Washington and I’m calling them out for it. I’m calling them out on executive bonuses. I’m calling them out on the fact taht tehy’re giving this money, no strings attached. And I get attacked for it. Okay.

Then we roll forward three years. Now Karl Rove takes money from Wall Street, in order to attack Elizabeth Warren for being cozy with Wall Street?

This one goes beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. I’m just amazed. It leaves you speechless.

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Senate Republicans Break Agreement Not to Filibuster Judicial Nominees

President Obama nominated Ms. Halligan for one of three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Mr. Obama expressed accused Republicans of undermining the judicial confirmation process for partisan purposes.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, led the Republican Party’s opposition to the nomination, saying Ms. Halligan’s record demonstrated that she viewed the court as a means of advancing a social agenda instead of as a forum for deciding legal questions.  During her confirmation hearing, Ms. Halligan distanced herself from positions she had taken for clients. Republicans, however, questioned whether she had been candid and portrayed her as an extremist.

Senate Democrats criticized the filibuster against Ms. Halligan. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, described her as a mainstream and well-qualified legal thinker who was being attacked by “concocted controversies and a blatant misreading” of her record.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York warned that the Republican action could undo a bipartisan agreement that has guided the way the Senate has handled appeals court nominations since 2005. The agreement, created by seven Democrats and seven Republicans known as the Gang of 14, was reached after Democrats employed the tactic to prevent up-or-down votes on several of President George W. Bush’s nominees.

Republicans at the time argued that it was unconstitutional to filibuster judicial nominees. The Republican leader, Senator Bill Frist, threatened to ban filibusters.

The crisis was averted after seven Democrats agreed not to block certain appeals court nominees. In exchange, seven Republicans promised not to change Senate rules.

Of the seven Republican senators who were part of the Gang of 14, four — John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine — are still serving. All voted against allowing a vote on Ms. Halligan.

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Gingrich Clashes with Other Candidates over Illegal Immigration

Gingrich's official portrait as Speaker

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Representative Michele Bachmann renewed her attack on Saturday of Newt Gingrich over illegal immigration, saying he favors “amnesty” for all illegal immigrants.

Rep. Bachmann released a letter that Mr. Gingrich signed in 2004 supporting a proposal by President Bush for a guest-worker program that would have given undocumented workers employee benefits.

Rep. Bachmann called Mr. Gingrich “the most liberal G.O.P. candidate on the issue of immigration reform.”

The issue arose after a debate on Tuesday night in which Mr. Gingrich called for a “humane” solution for illegal immigrants.

The Republican base has moved to the right on the issue since Pres. Bush floated his guest-worker program, which he dropped before his 2004 re-election campaign.

Republican primary voters disapprove of any program suggesting amnesty for illegal immigrants.

On Wednesday, Mr. Romney attacked Mr. Gingrich for tying legal status to the time someone has been in the country. “How about someone who has been here 20 years?” he said. “How about 12 years? How about 10? 5? 3?” He, too, labeled Mr. Gingrich’s proposal “amnesty.”

Mr. Gingrich said Friday at a campaign appearance that his Republican rivals were twisting his position. He repeated his support for a system to give legal status to some who have long been in the U.S., stating the least would be twenty-five years. He would leave the choice to grant legal status to local community boards.

Mr. Gingrich said he would secure the Mexican border by January 1, 2014 and fine businesses that hired undocumented workers, but in suggesting anything less than deporting all 11 million illegal immigrants, he opens himself up to charges of “amnesty.’’

Rep. Bachmann, who has made a hard line on illegal immigration a signature of her campaign, repeated that Mr. Gingrich favors amnesty for all 11 million.

The February 2004 letter that she circulated, printed in The Wall Street Journal, was an indication of how conservative opinion has shifted on the issue. Among its signatories was Ed Goeas, who earlier this year was an adviser to Mrs. Bachmann.

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In Light of Allegations, Cain’s Jokes Scrutinized

Herman Cain

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At the Republican Presidential debate Wednesday night, Herman Cain referred to Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, as “Princess Nancy.”

His campaign sent the quip out on Twitter almost immediately, to drive home the point, but the public response was not as the campaign might have expected.

“Ay yi yi,” tweeted Dana Perino, who served as White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. “Former Speaker Pelosi called a princess in the debate? Not fair. We may disagree on policy, but she earned the speaker title.”

Mr. Cain later called the remark “a statement that I probably should not have made.”

After battling accusations that he sexually harassed subordinates while he was chief of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s, Mr. Cain faces a new challenge: calibrating his behavior toward women in an atmosphere colored by the allegations.

This was not the first time Mr. Cain had called Ms. Pelosi a princess. On his radio talk show in Atlanta, he referred to her that way routinely.

With Mr. Cain’s campaign running a defense against the sexual harassment charges, any remark or photograph could create a PR problem if seen as rude, flirtatious or aggressive toward women.

Thursday, Mr. Cain was caught on tape joking about Anita Hill, who accused Clarence Thomas of harassment decades ago during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Polls suggest that Republican women support Mr. Cain in numbers that are roughly equal to men, but flickers of discontent are emerging in crucial constituencies.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 39% of Americans who have heard about the allegations against Mr. Cain think they are true.

At the moment, Mr. Cain does not seem to be making a pitch to the general electorate. He is appealing to his base, the energetic, conservative core of the Republican Party.

Women make up the majority of the electorate and tend to register and vote in greater numbers than men, but the Republican base tends to be disproportionately male.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month found that female Republicans were about equally supportive as men of Mr. Cain, within the poll’s margin of sampling error — 28% of women said they support Mr. Cain compared to 22% of men.

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Another Federal Court Upholds Health Care Reform Law

A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the Obama administration’s health care law on Tuesday in a decision written by a prominent conservative jurist.

The decision came as the Supreme Court is about to consider whether to take up challenges to the Affordable Care Act.

Of four appellate court rulings on the health care law so far, this is the third to deal with the law on the merits, and the second that upholds it.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington issued the 37-page opinion by Judge Laurence H. Silberman. In the opinion, Judge Silberman, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, described the law as part of the fundamental tension between personal liberty and legislative power.

The fact that Congress may have never issued an individual mandate to buy something before, a central argument for many opposing the law, “seems to us a political judgment rather than a recognition of constitutional limitations,” he wrote.

A 65-page dissent by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a conservative jurist appointed by President George W. Bush, stated that the courts lack jurisdiction until the law’s tax penalties take effect in 2015.

Tuesday’s opinion is the second appeals court decision that upholds the law on the merits. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit struck down the individual mandate in a suit brought by twenty-six states, and experts say it is most likely to be among those that the Supreme Court will choose to hear if the judges decide to take up the cases.

The White House posted a blog entry by a senior aide to the President that hailed “yet another victory” for Americans getting benefits from the early elements of the bill.

The fact that two leading lights of conservative jurisprudence decided against positions held by opponents of the health care law threatens to upend the popular notion that the fate of the law will be determined by judges along political lines.

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