November 30, 2009

Mike Huckabee deploys the passive voice.

In a statement about Maurice Clemmons, the man wanted in the shooting of 4 police officers. Boldface added:
He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990, this commutation made him parole eligible and he was then paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time.
These things just happened to Clemmons, according to Huckabee, who, as Arkansas governor, was the giver of the commutation that Clemmons received.
He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him.
Bad prosecutors.

43 comments:

Jason said...

"Mistakes were made."

Drew W said...

Anybody think Huckabee's not long for the broadcast world after this?

That was my first question when I heard the news about that sentence commutation. (Maybe he could co-host a kind of "Crossfire" remake with Michael Dukakis.)

Maguro said...

Huckabee can use the passive voice all he wants, but he has the blood of those cops on his hands. He better hope that that God he's always blathering on about is just a figment of his imagination.

John said...

"Deputies also interviewed other family members. They reported that Clemmons had been saying he could fly and that he expected President Obama to visit to "confirm that he is Messiah in the flesh."

http://seattletimes.nwsource.c.....ght29.html

Come now, lets be fair to the people up in Washington. If thinking Obama is the Messiah is a reason to keep someone in jail, we would have to lock up half of the Washington Press Corps.

MadisonMan said...

At least on my computer, the text shows up in different fonts/sizes on the Huckabee PAC site.

Bad cut and paste job, in other words.

chuck b. said...

I would have guessed Mike Huckabee's clemency problems have a lot to do with "that God he's always blathering on about", but according to this (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316312,00.html) it's usually the prosecutors.

Scott said...

Mike Huckabee, meet Willie Horton.

SteveR said...

The quicker the idea of Huckabee being a legitimate option for the Republicans in 2012 goes away, the better for them.

Under the perhaps mistaken assumption they don't want a repeat of the 2008 nomination suicide process, this episode should offer a quick and easy end. Details and technicalities don't matter. This has been a very long 15 minutes.

peter hoh said...

Madison Man, what part of "Boldface added" don't you get?

Washington state had good reason to keep him in jail. They let him out on bail just a few days ago.

John said...

Huckabee seems to just be terminally naive. He gets taken in by virtually anyone claiming to be reformed. While that doesn't make him a bad person, it makes him compltely unfit to hold exectutive office.

Pastafarian said...

Fuckabee.

Pastafarian said...

Huckabee is the slimiest snake-oil salesman populist ever to crawl up out of Arkansas. To paraphrase Naomi Watts: Fuckabee.

G Joubert said...

Anybody think Huckabee's not long for the broadcast world after this?

I don't know about broadcasting, but to whatever extent Huckabee was ever going to be a viable contender for the Repub nomination, it just evaporated. I can't see how he can ever overcome this as a prospective candidate.

peter hoh said...

Backgrounds of the slain officers.

Pogo said...

Well, at least that man got his second chance.


And if he gets another chance,
perhaps he can expand his kill total exponentially, like squared or quadrupled.

After that thought, definitely no more chances.

Unless he's really, really sorry.

PatHMV said...

I was the pardon attorney (among many other duties; clemency was a small part of the job) for the governor immediately south of Mike Huckabee. We regularly would get calls from preachers, especially those had supported by boss politically, passing on some sob story or other about a misfortunate imprisoned man. In Louisiana, pardons and commutations must be recommended by a pardon board before they can be signed by the governor, and our pardon board had a rigorous background and evaluation process in place. That served to weed out the worst applicants.

We told the preachers (and the wardens, and the others who would occasionally ask for help) the same thing: we'll look into the matter, and take action as appropriate. Most of the time, the crimes turned out to be pretty heinous, and so of course no action was the only appropriate action to take. Every now and then, we would find instances where the combination of length of time since the crime had occurred, lack of objection from any victims, and behavior since incarceration, warranted some kind of early release. We would never do that, however, where there was objection from the victim or the victim's family, and there were damn few of them at all.

In general, the folks who interceded with us on behalf of the newly-religious incarcerated felons were perfectly happy to take "no" for an answer. If they weren't, then we stopped talking about pardon matters with them at all on any level.

I think pardons are an excellent place to look for signs of a governor's character. If there are none at all, then he's either got no sense of mercy or he's a purely political actor, avoiding potential controversy at all costs. If there's a lot, he's probably reckless, possibly corrupt, and certainly not a very astute judge of character (either because he misjudges the applicants or because he hires lousy staff to review such things for him).

k*thy said...

Agreed, Huck is naive, his solutions too simple.

My hope is that there will be some sort of conversation about why people with violent mental illness aren't in hospitals where they belong. Our criminal justice system sweeps everyone in, regardless of condition. Can we do better?

MadisonMan said...

peter, it's not bolded. The page source shows that the size is changed.

It looks sloppy. Why would it be decided that that is done?

traditionalguy said...

Huckabee has always had the Baptist pastor's pulpiteer skills that sound 100% correct about everything, but actually leave out too much reality that also has to be dealt with and not ignored if you love your people. He does have good instincts for politics, but I cannot seem to trust him for some reason. I think it is because he always tells me what I want to hear. That is a smooth method that a true leader do not use. Lead me, don't seduce me.

peter hoh said...

Madison Man, on my screen, I can see that Althouse put three individual words and one four-word phrase in boldface.

peter hoh said...

Pat, thanks for your insight.

Simon Kenton said...

k*thy wrote:

"My hope is that there will be some sort of conversation about why people with violent mental illness aren't in hospitals where they belong."

We'd need to deal with the porosity of mental hospitals first. Many of the docs don't like to think of themselves as warders, but rather as curers. When they can convince themselves they have a success story and the self-esteem to go with it, they'll pronounce a cure and effect a release. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's another violent lunatic back in the neighborhood. Not their neighborhood, though. Second, security at these places is not great even when they recognize someone needs perpetual custody. Out they come, there's a red face or two at the institution, and some cop or resident has to deal with them.

In short, a certain number of juries can look a profoundly schizophrenic savage in the eye, reject a mental illness defense, and send him up -- because they don't trust psychiatrists and they don't trust hospitals.

MadisonMan said...

peter, read my initial post more carefully:

At least on my computer, the text shows up in different fonts/sizes on the Huckabee PAC site.

In other words, follow the professor's link.

William T Sherman said...

Why do I think that if this governor had a "D" after his title this would be a non-issue? Let's do a clemency comparison of all state governors over the last ten years, and see which party released more bad guys.

Cedarford said...

Maguro said...
Huckabee can use the passive voice all he wants, but he has the blood of those cops on his hands.


Bullshit. Every executive leader that has commuting powers/pardon powers, every Parole Board, every judge - that dares exercise their power and discretion knows that they will not decide perfectly. Hopefully, and statistical analysis seems to bear this out - the executive pardoning/commutation powers, judges leeway, and Parole Board powers do more good than harm
It is easy for Maguro sitting on his fat ass with no such powers and responsibilities to talk about how others who have to sit in that position "have blood on their hands".

Most societies have institutionalized those powers. For every Marc Rich or thug who goes on to more serious crime - there are dozens if not hundreds that have the State taken off their back, are no longer a burden on taxpayers or law enforcement resources - and become positive contributors to society.

The US already has more people in jail per capita than any nation save Iran.

=============
Drew W said...
Anybody think Huckabee's not long for the broadcast world after this?


Huckabee was already criticized - for years - about past pardons or commutations gone bad. During re-elections and during his Presidential run. He explained himself, and the "loose with mercy" charge never gained traction.

miller said...

I'm not sure I understand the point of this. While I am no fan of Huckabee and I think the deaths of these 4 officers is a horrible tragedy, I don't know enough about the alleged criminal to understand whether his clemency was unfounded.

Was he simply seen as a petty criminal with a too-long sentence, or did he show signs of violence?

If he was a thief only, then perhaps his clemency wasn't beyond the bounds.

And if it's true that Washington State let him out on bail, that speaks more to Washington than to Arkansas.

peter hoh said...

Madison Man, my apologies. I did look at the link before commenting. On my screen, the statement is in something like Helvetica, with a very subtle size difference that I missed the first time I looked at it. That led me to think that you were talking about the changes that Althouse made to the text.

peter hoh said...

Miller asked: Was he simply seen as a petty criminal with a too-long sentence, or did he show signs of violence?

from The Seattle Times

In 1990, Clemmons, then 18, was sentenced in Arkansas to 60 years in prison for burglary and theft of property, according to a news account in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Newspaper stories describe a series of disturbing incidents involving Clemmons while he was being tried in Arkansas on various charges.

During one trial, Clemmons was shackled in leg irons and seated next to a uniformed officer. The presiding judge ordered the extra security because he felt Clemmons had threatened him, court records show.

Another time, Clemmons hid a hinge in his sock, and was accused of intending to use it as a weapon. Yet another time, Clemmons took a lock from a holding cell, and threw it toward the bailiff. He missed and instead hit Clemmons' mother, who had come to bring him street clothes, according to records and published reports.

On another occasion, Clemmons had reached for a guard's pistol during transport to the courtroom.

miller said...

Thanks, Peter, for the update.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Clemency for a man that a judge thought dangerous will cause quite a bit of grief for Huckabee.

John Stodder said...

Why do I think that if this governor had a "D" after his title this would be a non-issue? Let's do a clemency comparison of all state governors over the last ten years, and see which party released more bad guys.

If said governor with a "D" was showing up at the top of polls for the next presidential nomination, I suspect your conjecture would be wrong.

Otherwise, you might have a point. The more highly nuanced thinking shown by enlightened progressives would be accounted for a bit more in the coverage. When a stupid Republican does something like this, it's assumed it's because he's stupid and the stupid voters made a stupid mistake voting for him or her instead of the Democrat they could've voted for if they were smarter. Whereas if it was a Democrat the assumption would be he had an extremely good reason for the commutation and that the subsequent events only show that you can't explain the mysteries of the human personality, especially in an era when wars can be started based on a lie and the government lets people die in Katrina while rewarding Wall Street crooks, and when half of America spends its Sundays watching the orchestrated violence of NFL football. We're all to blame.

MadisonMan said...

No apology is necessary -- I just need to be clearer in my writing.

vbspurs said...

"Mistakes were made."

"A failure of imagination".

peter hoh said...

"No one could have predicted this."

Maguro said...

C4 said...Bullshit. Every executive leader that has commuting powers/pardon powers, every Parole Board, every judge - that dares exercise their power and discretion knows that they will not decide perfectly.

Bullshit right back. Huckabee commuted a 95-year prison sentence for this nutball so it's on him to make sure that he's not a likely candidate for future offenses. Obviously a big fail there, even before the cop shootings. Huckabee is just as guilty as if he had sent this fucker a file baked inside a cake.

Pogo said...

"Every executive leader ...knows that they will not decide perfectly."

i agree, the buck stops at Huckabee, and therefore an inordinate level of caution is appropriate when a decision literally involves life and death.

Th onus is on Huckabee to prove due diligence in that release. So far he's muffed it.

PatHMV said...

Bullshit to you, Cedarford. I've been in those trenches, and I can assure you that the final question in our minds was whether we were so certain it was safe to let a convicted criminal back into society that we were prepared to publicly stand by the decision, even if the worst happened (as happened here). If I ever hear that the beneficiary of any act of clemency which I recommended to my boss later killed a cop (or anybody else), I can assure you that I will feel a great deal of personal responsibility for that.

These decisions are not for the faint of heart. If you're not willing to stand up and put your own reputation on the line for each and every one of them, you've got no business making them... otherwise you're only betting with other people's money (and lives).

Might we have made some bad calls? Probably; no human endeavor is perfect. But that doesn't mean we're not responsible, on some level, for the consequences our decisions have on others people.

Fred4Pres said...

I was never much of a Huckafan, but Huckabee is now dead to me politically.

Fred4Pres said...

Huckabee is a coward.

G Joubert said...

The onus is on Huckabee to prove due diligence in that release.

He can't. Huckabee led the league in pardons and commutations. He gave over 700 of them during his 8 years, way more than his predecessors and way more than all of the neighboring states. And he had other ones who went on and seriously re-offended.

I'm sure to Huckabee it was Christian forgiveness, but it was irresponsibility is what it was.

Cedarford said...

PatHMV said...
Bullshit to you, Cedarford.


Well, more bullshit back at you, Pat.
Sounds like the perfect solution to you to avoid any responsibility is to never risk your judgment being wrong by taking such risks in the Parole, legal, and executive branch. (Or as a decision-maker who has to rely on best judgment in matters that affect the lives of people - doctors, nurses, prosecutors, employers, etc.)

Judgment is not perfect.

If the norm is 19 out of 20 doctor decisions are correct, a particular doctor meeting that norm does not have "blood on their hands" for the 20th case, except by gross negligence.

For our society to function, we need those sorts of people making those sorts of decisions. We cannot afford each act of medicine to be done by a full panel, we cannot afford to put 14 million Americans on Parole or with commuted sentences into new prisons on top of the expensive system we have already handling 1.8 million behind bars and all their free legal motions.

PatHMV said...

In case you are unaware, Cedarford, pardons and commutations (collectively "clemency") refers to actions (usually by taken by a state's governor) to reduce a lawfully-imposed sentence allowing the inmate to be released before serving the full sentence imposed by a court in accordance with law. It is not, and should not be, a routine procedure for release.

Parole boards have to make the kind of decisions you describe, as their review is part of the normal, routine operation of the legal system. Clemency stands generally outside of the routine procedure, generally to take the sharp edge off of the law in exceptional cases. It is NOT the place for routine cost/benefit, risk/reward types of analyses, precisely because it is not a routine procedure.

You may have missed the part above where I noted that governors who issue almost no acts of clemency show a lack of character by indicating that they either have no mercy or that they are cowardly and afraid to take any political risks at all. The safest political bet is always to deny, regardless of the individual case.

Once you get past that, however, the onus is on the decision maker to responsibly decide whether the specific conditions of THIS case, with THIS inmate, justify the very extraordinary act of lifting the penalty prescribed and issued in accordance with the law. That's a heavy and serious decision to make, and the person who makes it IS responsible, at some level, for the consequences of that decision.

Certainly that was the feeling that both I and my boss, the governor of Louisiana at the time, had.

Michael Hasenstab said...

His political career has shifted from Huckabee to Huckawas.

Tony O. said...

Thought experiment: if Obama had previously been the Illinois governor and *he* had issued this pardon, would Althouse's tag read "Obama" or would it be something more like "Obama's fatal mistake"?

Just asking.