Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gimme That Ol’ Time SciFi

For science fiction fans who also happen to be film fans, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (with all of its variations and re-releases) is probably on the short list of best sci fi movies of all time. It’s sure as hell on mine.

Which is why I’m all giddy on the inside at the thought of the “Final Cut” edition finally being released. It’s been long discussed and long desired, but arguments over rights have kept it in some strange speculative fiction purgatory for long enough that I thought God might be punishing me for some sin by holding the release hostage. It’s finally coming (and it would make a grand Christmas present for the most brilliant blogger on your list) and it’s going to be big.

This winter, Warner bros is set to release a DVD box set of this box office Prometheus that rivals all other special editions and will keep the fans drooling until it’s on shelves this December 18th. Presenting the film in HD formats, the DVD collection will come in a briefcase with, a three-hour documentary and (count them) five different versions of the film, including Ridley Scott’s dark “work print.”

Oh, yes.

Sadly, it looks as if the movie’s theatrical re-release is only going to be to a few theaters in New York and LA--which isn’t particularly helpful to me, damnit.

This is still great news for fans, though.

For a short interview with Ridley Scott, check this out.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Congratulations to Andy (Update)

Andy and the World Wide Wife’s baby-making powers come through again. Congratulations to both of them.

(Link to an appropriate post will come up sooner or later.)

Update: More appropriate link (as promised).

The Simpsons: A Review

I couldn’t help but walk out of The Simpsons Movie thinking, “Damnit, I just paid seven dollars for this? Not to mention the overpriced medium beverage and pretzel bites (which, admittedly, were nice and fresh).” To say I was unhappy would be like saying Carter was a bad president, and I’m not in for that kind of understatement. I had planned to avoid it--convinced that it couldn’t be particularly good--but changed my mind after seeing the box office results over Friday and Saturday.

For years I’ve thought that the TV show had grown stale, that it really didn’t have anything new to tell us, and that the humor had grown predictable and bland. The movie pretty much embodies all of my complaints, puts them in a longer format, and throws them on a big screen. A decade ago, it might have been worth doing (and seeing). In 2007, though, it’s just a waste of time.

The voices, the animation, the situations are all unsurprising. Outside of a few naughty words and a peek at Bart’s penis, there isn’t a new thing on display. Even the audience that I saw it with seemed listless, laughing only occasionally and clearing out before the credits were done. With all the big dollars and the critical acclaim (an 89% Tomatometer rating should indicate something, shouldn’t it?) I truly thought that my expectations were out of line.

Words that have been used to describe the film: subversive, touching, clever, and spirited. Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post even described it as one of the best movies of the year. My view of The Simpsons Movie is a little different. Tired, overly familiar, and surprisingly (torturously) long at just 87 minutes. It’s hardly one of the best movies of the year—it’s, at best, passable summer entertainment. The best of The Simpsons came years ago and is easy to find on DVD. Those early years (once they got past the “really horrible” animation and voice acting phase and settled into the characters and conventions) were vital, funny, and groundbreaking. Fans are better served by visiting those years.

For animation, story, heart, and laughs, I would still recommend Ratatouille. For big, dumb summer fun (with a heavy emphasis on dumb), go see Transformers. For me, at this point, I’m just looking forward to Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and the girl’s upcoming favorite, The Bourne Supremacy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Lindsay Lohan: Not Homophobic, Racist, or Anti-Semitic. So She’s Got That Going for Her…

Most of the really good superstar meltdowns involve these three key ingredients:

  1. Mind and mood altering drugs
  2. Narcissistic statements involving some variation of: “I’m a celebrity so I can get away with anything.”
  3. Homophobic, racist, or anti-Semitic statements requiring much groveling after the fact

Lohan only managed two out of three according to this TMZ story, which is nice since too much public groveling really gets on my nerves. Sad for her, though, that her public meltdown won’t reach the same heights as--for example--Mel Gibson’s. Mel not only managed all three of the requisites, but he tossed in a gratuitous “sugar tits” and managed a charmingly sleazy mug shot (leaving Nick Nolte just a touch jealous).

Even though Lohan’s arrest comes up pretty short of the Gibsonian standard that only few will ever reach, the linked story does show that this little girl is seriously unhinged and way too pleased with herself.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

“The economy is down on its knees.”

The title is a sentence from one of the emails from Zimbabwe that the Beeb is running. These notes give a view into the growing disaster of Zimbabwe’s economy.

For another view, Sokwanele has been tracking changes in business for some time now.

Factories continue to shut down and warehouses are being depleted and the last stocks of manufactured goods have all but disappeared from the shelves.

Of course, the country’s own propagandists (and for those of you who think that American media are lapdogs of the administration, I submit that you don’t have the proper respect for our free press), see the situation differently. The support for Mugabe is unwavering, as is the call for price controls.

President Mugabe, in his stewardship role of the nation, has never failed Zimbabweans in their hour of need. We now have our land through his principled leadership.

The Indiginisation Act beckons for the majority to destroy the remaining vestiges of economic deprivation.

But the enemy is on the prowl, seeking to devour us, aided by the weak and corrupt amongst us. This explains why provisions of the Control of Goods Act are being invoked with full vigour to protect consumers harassed, nay haunted by a profiteering business community and marauding illegal regime change activists masquerading as business persons.

Which, while it’s awfully nice that the noble Mugabe is protecting Zimbabweans from the prowling enemy that is harassing, nay, haunting them, the idea that price controls will somehow stop hyperinflation is idiotic. Moneyweb has a clear view:

Mugabe’s government has reacted to the sapping effects of hyperinflation in the same way that many others have reacted: it has sought to implement price controls, fixing the prices of goods at so-called reasonable levels. This seems to make sense. Prices are rising very fast, so decreeing that they stop should solve the problem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.

Prices, in a market economy, reflect the value that people assign to a good. Consider the oil market. When demand for a limited supply of oil rises, the price rises. This encourages oil companies to invest more to produce more oil. It enables more expensive oil resources, like Canada’s tar sands, to be exploited.

By fixing the price of goods, the Mugabe’s government will effectively short out this relationship between supply and demand. The effects of this are depressingly familiar. Shops rapidly sell out of goods, and have no incentive to restock. People who produce goods no longer have any incentive to continue producing. Massive shortages result. This has happened again and again. In Zimbabwe, shops are emptying rapidly, and will not be easily restocked as long as price controls remain in place.

Price controls have been tried many times, and have always failed. Consider the Roman emperor Diocletian. When he ascended to the throne in around 200 BCE, the empire was a mess. Civil war, politically motivated land confiscation and looting had sapped the economy. Inflation was rampant. Virtually all the tax money collected went straight to the army, leaving nothing for government to spend on other projects. The government reacted by “printing money”, which pushed inflation ever higher. Diocletian tried to solve the problems by fixing prices, issuing the “Maximum Price Edict” which was supposed to end inflation. Instead, goods were driven to the black market, and large parts of the Roman empire reverted to a barter economy.

No period of hyperinflation has ever been ended by price controls.

All that Mugabe will do, with his strict price controls, is make the underground economy more important and, in my view, raise the likelihood of violence in Zimbabwe. When the official economy is so broken that it doesn’t match the realities of the citizens, then one of the threads that binds a government and the governed is severed. When faith that the government represents the people reasonably and fairly fails, then another of those threads is gone. When people stop believing that peaceful methods--voting, non-violent protest, open and frank discussion of grievances--can cause change, they will ultimately turn to violence.

In Zimbabwe, faith in government is mostly gone and the official economy is near irrelevance. The stories of violence, protest, repression, and corruption are growing; Zimbabwe is near collapse.  The only questions remaining in my mind are just how bad that collapse will be, how much bled will end up shed, and what will replace the government when it finally fails?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Very Lanegan Christmas

Lanegan fans rejoice. Over the next six months or so we should be seeing all kinds of wonders and spending all kinds of money to satisfy our fixation.

  1. Follow up to Ballad of the Broken Seas. Lanegan’s pairing with Isobel Campbell resulted in one of his most successful albums, mixed but mostly positive critical reaction, and part of a nomination for a prestigious music award (the Mercury Music Prize). Apparently, the muse is still with the duo because they’ve already put together the majority of a sequel to be released early next year.

    “We toured together in January this year and he came over to my house in Glasgow a lot in March so we recorded a lot of the songs then.

    “Most of the work is done, I’m mixing and mastering it now, but we probably won’t get it out this year, more likely early next year.

  2. Gutter Twins comes closer to reality. Greg Dulli and Lanegan have threatened to release an album as the Gutter Twins for a ridiculously long time now. Having signed to Sub Pop is a great indicator that the project might finally be ready to be unveiled. My guess is that the thing could be out either late this year or very early next year.
  3. Soulsavers are finally ready to invade America. One of the finest albums to be released this year is finally coming to America. Soulsavers’ It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land might have a bit of an unwieldy title, but it’s filled with the most effective mix of dance, rock, and American roots music that you’re likely to find this year. Here’s what the band has to say on their MySpace page:

    We’re happy to say that we signed a deal with Columbia records for North America last week.
    I guess the plan is to hopefully try to get the record out by October & try and get over there to play some shows around that time too.

    Best case scenario (and reading heavily--and perhaps too hopefully--between the lines) would have Lanegan doing a mini-tour with the band in the US. Please, Lord, let there be a Denver date somewhere on that schedule…

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Buy, you know, not in a good way.

Good Time to be Stupid

It sure does look like Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jimmy Williams picked a great time to be stupid. With all the focus on the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal, Williams’ marijuana possession charge might just sort of slip from view.

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jimmy Williams is facing a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

State police charged the Hampton native on June 2, according to Goochland County General District Court records. An initial court appearance scheduled for July 16 was postponed until Dec. 3.

The incident was first reported by television station WGCL in Atlanta and WTVR in Richmond. The station reported that Williams said he is innocent and that Falcons president Rich McKay and coach Bob Petrino had a copy of the police report and were discussing the matter Monday.

Williams might be one of the few people in the nation to breathe a sigh of whenever that Vick scandal garners another headline.

None of which explains how athletes can be stupid enough to risk endorsements and salaries worth far more than I’ll make (barring some miraculous fluke of lottery generosity) over the next decade of my life. I’m all for legalizing the Evil Weed, and could personally care less if Mr. Williams smokes a little homegrown now and again, but it seems like an awfully small reward for a far greater risk. That’s just bad decision making, but it’s far from uncommon.

Update: Of course, stupid is as Lohan does. Or something like that. Update to this update: Michele feels a little sympathy for Lindsay. Which is awfully nice of her. I chalk it up to her mommy instincts or some innate kindness that is completely absent in me. Because, let me tell you, I’m not feeling any sympathy at all.

Quick poll: who can, without resorting to Google, name the song that has this line: “I wrote this novel just for mom and all the mommy things she does...”

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Fairy Tale and War Story?

One begins with “Once upon a time” and the other usually starts with “This ain’t no bullshit...”

Brilliant Description of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)

Jonah Goldberg describes Don Young, who made news for angrily proclaiming his ownership of tax money when some of his appropriations were challenged by fellow GOPers, thusly:

Don Young is a “prominent Republican” solely because of his fame as a pork hauler and his seniority. It’s not like he’s a respected thinker, leader or strategist of any kind. He’s merely a prominent pork whore who happens to be a Republican.

Nicely done.

Whether you agree with the cuts in educational spending that were being proposed by Rep. Scott Garret of New Jersey, it’s particularly offensive when any of our elected leaders start claiming ownership of our tax dollars. Alaska’s representatives have done a damned fine job of making sure that Federal money flows into state coffers--in my mind, truly earning the term “welfare state”, and Young has played an integral part in maintaining that flow.

Now, it would be unfair to single Young out. Most of our representatives just aren’t as creative, aggressive, or shameless as him, but their aims are the same: buy votes in their districts with all the Federal money that they can get their hands on. Young just happens to be better at the game than most of the others.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Magical Land of Edwards

I don’t like John Edwards. Even his lustrous hair can’t change the fact that I think of him as a shallow, deluded, ambulance-chasing trial lawyer who made his millions off of dubious science and spun his aggressive opportunistic streak as a fight for the common man. As I said: I don’t like John Edwards.

But damned if Edwards doesn’t like Edwards.

All the empirical evidence shows that I am the strongest general election candidate,” said Mr. Edwards from a small stage as the Chicago traffic flowed mutedly behind a glass-paneled wall.

The reason, he said, was simple:

“What will happen with almost complete certainty, is in December and January, our caucus-goers, the New Hampshire primary voters, will be evaluating who they think is the strongest general election candidate. They like all of us. I mean, that’s the truth. They like me. They like Hillary. And they like Obama. They are trying to decide who they think will be the strongest general election candidate. And that will get more intense, the closer we get to the caucus and primaries.”

Then came the sell:

“Well, this is not even close—who’s the strongest general election candidate. Every piece of empirical evidence shows you exactly the same thing that your gut will tell you anyway.”

To support his argument, he cited a poll that he said showed him outperforming Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama in head-to-head match-ups with leading Republican candidates.

“I saw a poll a week and a half ago, done by an independent polling firm, testing each of us against the top four Republicans, in about, I want to say, this isn’t going to be exactly right, but in about 20 states, mostly swing states,” Mr. Edwards said. “And I beat every Republican in 20 states. All of ‘em. Hillary won in about half the states roughly, close to half, and Obama, I think, won nowhere, if I remember correctly.”

First off, early poll results--over a year out from the general election--are damned near meaningless. His performance in the last cycle’s elections was pitiful and he hasn’t build anything resembling a stronger base over this early electioneering. While he may have won the hearts and minds of the MoveOn hordes, he’s been lagging in fundraising and, if polls do mean anything, he’s also dropped to Bill Richardson single digit support in the latest CNN poll.

If you can’t win your own party, you certainly can’t win the general election. Edwards did nothing to bouy Kerry’s campaign and is showing little more than an impressive ability to come in a consistent third in his own party.

He could still find the energy and the message to sneak his way back toward the top of the heap of Democrat hopefuls, but I wouldn’t count on it. Edwards is an also ran (with one hell of a great head of hair).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter, Dead Characters, and Other Spooky Stuff (Updated)

So, the full Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book has leaked and now fans are scurrying about to find out who lives, who dies, and what happily ever after looks like in the Potterverse. I won’t be one of those trying to discover the ending, although I am curious to see how JK Rowling ties up her many loose ends.

The funniest part about me reading the book, though, is that I can’t stand some of the characters that I’m supposed to love. Harry is a little jerk. He started as a sympathetic character and then grew up to be a teenager--in a way, I can’t help but feel that Rowling tapped into the same vein of whiny adolescence that made Luke Skywalker seem so irritating to me when I was a kid. Then there is Dumbledore with his so-obvious favoritism and unmatched ability to put the lives of children in the school in danger--let’s just say that I don’t understand how this intellectual featherweight is considered to be such a wise person in the Potterverse.

There is one character that I’ve grown to appreciate, though. Snape may have a bit of evil in him (or, maybe, a big bit of evil), but he has consistently done what he could to keep Harry safe. Whatever his native instincts, he does continue to do his best to do what is right (that last bit in The Half-Blood Prince notwithstanding). He’s cranky, snippy, vengeful, occasionally mean, and hardly pleasant--but he’s gotten a raw deal from Harry and his gang of snot-nose-know-it-alls from the beginning. It’s tough to be Severus Snape, but he soldiers on, and that counts big to me.

Since I won’t be indulging in he ultimate spoiler, I have only my imagination to give me clues to what Deathly Hallows holds for me. For example, unlike many, I do believe that Dumbledore is dead and that he will stay that way. It would be cheap (and it would cheapen the emotion that some people felt when he died in the last book) to conjure up some parlor trick to bring him back. I insist that he stay dead because the alternative would possibly ruin the series for me.

I don’t believe that Harry will die. He isn’t quite a messianic figure, so his ultimate sacrifice isn’t necessary for the book to wind up with a satisfactory ending. Aside from that, the kid deserves a chance to grow up and experience life outside the shadow of ultimate evil that has hovered over him since the beginning of the series. Given the growth of Snape, I do think that he will die. I think he will die in service to the gang of snot-nose-know-it-alls--perhaps saving the life of Harry or one of the others--in some way that completes his redemption and perhaps even gives Harry a moment of thought about the assumptions he had made and the small cruelties that he and his friends had shown the teacher.

As a bonus, though, I think one of the friends--either Hermione or Ron--will be killed at some point in the book. It’s the Kleenex moment that the series has been crying for; a moment that will put an emotional spin on the series that no one will forget.

But what the hell do I know? I’m just a guy who thinks that JK Rowling did a damned fine job of creating a little world of magic that has been enjoyable as a minor, occasional escape. Good for her (and good for all the kids that might have been bit by the reading bug because of Harry and the rest of the crew).

None of which explains why this guy was following me with his Evil Satellites of Doom during my visit to St. Augustine this past week. Creepy bastard.

Update: Speaking of creepy, this has to be somewhere in that conversation. Ewww.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Where David Is (And You Aren’t (Probably))


With the crappy ol’ cell phone, I have taken a picture of one of the places I’ve visited while I’ve been out on the annual sales meeting.

Cool, huh?

For the record, though, since I’m extending the trip a bit, this is ending up being damned near as expensive as my typical vacation. Ouch.

Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the place. Big bonus points.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Out of Town

For the curious, I will be out of town for the next week. I’m posting this from the magic of overpriced Tmobile wireless at DFW.

So, yeah, have a nice week…

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer 2007 Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash (Incredible Bouncing Post)

In honor of the latest Cirque du Soleil to visit Denver, here comes the bouncy post once again. Don’t forget the blogger bash.

Seven is special. Unless you happen to be a seventh grader,in which case it just sucks.

But, mostly, seven makes me happy.

Take, for example, July 7. That will be the night that the biggest, bestest, smartest, and drunkest bloggers in the Rocky Mountain Region come together for a night of fun and frivolity.

Which, that’s pretty damned special. Readers, writers, significant others, and other interesting folks are all invited to join in the party. Just bring your thirst, a credit card with a high limit, and an amusing anecdote or two.

2007 Summer Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash
July 7, 2007 (See, that’s an extra seven at the end there)
7:07pm to Close (By Special Request)
Celtic Tavern
1801 Blake St.

We’ll be in the Robert Burns Roon, non-smoking, private room at the bar (which is, I believe, actually at Delaney’s bar, which is joined at the hip with The Celtic). For smokers, The Celtic is a “cigar” bar, so you’ll be able to indulge in your tobacco habit. Which is nice for you.

Updated graphics here.

Attendees & Stuff
Steve Green (Vodkapundit) One of our most famous, most distinguished, and most charismatic boozehounds. Which is why we love him.
Andy (World Wide Rant) Unless the runts keep him home. Which they can’t because he’s the co-conspirator that drives the continuing success of the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bashes
Robert (Creative Destruction) Who attends, mostly, because he can’t ignore the call of free shots.
Publicola In true gentlemanly fashion, Publicola will likely show up. Although we’ll have to find a way for him to sneak a cigarette.
Jed (Freedomsight) Who, regardless of why he’s coming, seems to have a better grasp of the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash versioning than I do at this point.
Left Off Colfax This gentleman comes to pick fights with libertarians and conservatives while secretly drinking unguarded trays full of Jaegermeister. Which is amusing for pretty much everyone involved.
Mr. Lady Proving that Steve doesn’t have the corner on either charisma or boozehoundiness. (100 Kisses. That’s all I’m sayin’.)
Darren (Colorado Conservative) Or, at least, hell attend as long as someone wakes him in time.
Molly G (Soapy Water) God and babysitters willing, Molly will be there to tell us stories of Godzilla despoiling Hondas. Or not. Depending.
Wheels Who I think has been to almost as many of these as I have.
Angie Could it be?
Tara Anderson Not only does she come to the party, but she comes with Free t-shirts. Which makes her almost as popular as the guy who buys all the drinks.
Adam Who was probably cranky about all the free booze he missed out on last time.
Matt M (TBOTCOTW) His wife, who knows the kind of trouble we can be, still gave her blessing. She’s way too good for him.
Dr. Cutter And, don’t get me wrong, we’re happy he’s coming. But we really wish he would post more pictures of the naked skater.
Richard Combs He’ll be fashionably late, though. Frankly, I admire his commitment to our theme.
Robin Roberts Consider yourself nagged, mister.
Andrew, the Wash Park Prophet.
Julio Enriquez, whose knowledge of music probably rivals that of the drink-stealing blogger at Left Off Colfax…

Keynote is My Special Friend

I was up ‘til quite late last night putting together a presentation for our company’s annual sales meeting next week. Woo.

Anyway, I’ve put together presentations using PowerPoint before and always found it clunky and a little unattractive. When I bought my new baby MacBook a few months back, I decided to splurge and add iWork ‘06 to the package. iWork is a sort of productivity suite done the Apple way (which is always a mixed blessing), and its two components, Pages and Keynote, haven’t managed to come in particularly handy thus far.

That is, until I used Keynote to put together the presentation.

Keynote makes PowerPoint look absolutely sickly. The templates are gorgeous, the transitions are beautiful, and the way it handles media and text is about as simple as you can get. Except for the fact that I have to deal with interactivity issues, I can’t imagine why I would ever what to use PowerPoint again. While Pages didn’t impress me (it’s quite similar to Belight’s Swift Publisher, but in many ways not as good), Keynote is exceptional presentation software. Frankly, just for that application, iWork was well worth the cost.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to all y’all Americans out there.

The Zomby Rules of Order for the Day:

  1. Enjoy some explosions (and do it safely). You can take both active and passive roles, but, frankly, it’s not much of a 4th of July without things going boom. Beautiful blossoms of light in the sky and showers of sparks delighting young eyes form the basis for many of my happy memories. When, years ago, I lived in Deerfield Beach, I remember going to a fireworks display that we watched from the beach--and the awesome sight of those brilliant stars hurling through the dark sky being reflected on the waves below still make me smile.
  2. Enjoy your freedoms and your phenomenal good luck. We’re lucky to be Americans and lucky to be in one of the most free nations in the world. Some don’t acknowledge this, but it is easier to succeed and harder to fail in America than in most of the rest of the world. Remember the opportunities that you have and the good of our nation today. Imperfect, vital, always changing, and yearning for even better: this is the America that I know and love.
  3. Eat something good. Intentionally vague, indeed, but just realize that we all mark our most special days with food. Whatever your own personal traditions are, make sure it’s something special to commemorate such an important marker in our nation’s history.
  4. Hug someone who provides service to our country. Soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine certainly qualify, but so do the teachers, jurists, cops, firemen, and all of the civil servants who work to make our lives safer and better. Except those bastards down at the DMV. No hugging for them.
  5. Try to put aside the partisan politics for the day. This isn’t a day to make cheap points, but a day to celebrate not only what America is, but also what America can become. We are all stewards of our nation, and, as cheesy as it sounds, we really can work together to help America fulfill her potential. We won’t always agree, we won’t always be nice to each other, and we won’t always get our way, but I think we’ve done pretty well so far.
  6. Celebrate patriotism. It’s become a bad word in some circles, but patriotism isn’t “my country, right or wrong”, it’s “my country, and I’ll strive to make her better.” My love of country doesn’t mean that I believe everything America has been and done is perfect; my love stems from my belief that America is basically good and, with the guidance of informed and caring citizens, will be even better. Patriotism isn’t a bad thing: it’s an expression of faith in and love of my nation and her place in the world.

Here’s to America and all of the things that make her special: to the constitution and the poetry of freedom; to the defenders who, with bravery and self-sacrifice, keep her safe from harm; to the flag that flies reminding us of all that has gone before; and to the dreams of a future as bright and beautiful as those fireworks in the sky.

To you and yours, I hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Now, go forth and celebrate. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

An Unspectacular Pardon

Presidents commute sentences, bestow conditional pardons, and, occasionally, offer up full pardons when they see fit. It goes with the job, whether we, the people, like the recipients of the presidential largesse. This is a constitutionally derived power that is very simple to understand: the President of the United States of America is allowed to pardon whomever he wants, whenever he wants, for whatever reason he wants.

Here’s what the constitution (Article II, Section 2) has to say about certain presidential powers:

Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

Simple, no? Which is precisely why Jesse Jackson’s call for impeachment of President Bush over his decision to commute Libby’s sentence is not only overblown, but blatantly ignorant.

”Since the president has intervened in this process, it is now the Congress’ obligation and responsibility to intervene in the executive process and begin an inquiry into these very serious crimes against the constitution of the United States,” said Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Chicago).

Jackson says this time the president went too far. After word that Bush commuted Libby’s sentence Jackson plans to call on House Democrats to start impeachment proceedings.

Certainly, it’s reasonable to critique the president on his decision and to disagree with his conclusions. But that’s a far away from calling for impeachment when the president has exercised his constitutional powers. There have been numerous proposals and attempts to limit presidential pardon powers and even to require Senate approval; all of those attempts have failed.

In his four years in office, Jimmy Carter gave some sort of clemency to 566 petitioners. Ronald Reagan, over his eight years, only took such action 406 times. Bill Clinton handed out 456 acts of clemency. And none of them were even near the top 10. Curious? See the list here.

Would you like some real fun with clemency? Consider Nixon’s conditional pardon of Jimmy Hoffa. Or Ford’s oft-questioned pardon of Nixon. As highly as I have always regarded the man, Reagan’s pardon of George Steinbrenner always struck me as wrong. While Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich got the headlines, it was his decision to commute the sentence of the FALN terrorists that really got me going.

There is a grand history of presidential pardons, and, for all of Andrew Sullivan’s foaming at the mouth, this one is unlikely to be remembered in the same way that we remember Washington’s pardon of the Whiskey Rebellion leaders.

President Bush was well within his constitutional rights and purview. Further, by leaving much of Scooter Libby’s punishment intact (only commuting the jail time), he leaves significant judgments against Libby and angers that part of the right who insist that nothing less than a full pardon is appropriate. Sullivan, breaking out loaded terms like “the royal court” and “it’s good to be the king”, now seems to be indicating that the commuted sentence is an effort by the Bush administration to make sure that Libby stays quiet “about the war crimes of the president and vice-president”.

He’s slipping into conspiracy-theory land, isn’t he?

How about we just go with what the president has given us: he thinks that the sentence handed down was too harsh and he undertook to rectify the problem. Simple. There is nothing spectacular about this act of clemency; certainly, there is nothing either unconstitutional or out of the ordinary to be seen. 


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