The Parable of Lord Cornwallis

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On His Surrender at Yorktown, and Questions Answered in the Siegelman Case

Connecting the Dots
By Glynn Wilson

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One of the most interesting and fun things about the freedom that comes with self-publishing on the Web Press is to see how it drives some people absolutely crazy when I speak in parables and communicate through literary abstractions.

A writer is always influenced both by where he or she is and the experiences they’ve had, I try to tell them, over and over again, but it doesn’t seem to sink in sometimes. Maybe one of these days.

Since I spent a good part of my adult life around academic institutions, there tends to be a bit of an academic tint to what I write. Not that it looks anything at all like an article for an academic journal. That’s sort of the point of why I do this now, rather than that, if you get my drift.

Writing for the Web tends to be a tad more conversational, too, like a dinner talk, as compared to the formalized nature of an article for a newspaper or magazine. That’s one of the things that draws some readers to blogs.


If that comes off at times as “lecturing” or “educating” or “preachy” as opposed to “reporting” and turns some people off, so be it. I usually have my tongue in my cheek rather than an angry scowl on my face when I write. Although there have been plenty of times over the past few years when I was definitely pissed off at the Bush administration : )

And who wouldn’t be, Democrat or Republican?

And since I don’t have to please any corporate bosses with what I write here, I am free to experiment with different story frames and forms. If I didn’t find that interesting, I wouldn’t bother doing it. And if some readers didn’t find that interesting, we would not have the large audience we’ve built up here over the past three years.

Well, I have another parable today, but I am going to try and interpret it for you. That’s why we call it “connecting the dots.”

And speaking of connecting the dots, later on I have a few answers for the Montgomery Advertiser, which ran a story today asking a bunch of questions about the Siegelman case.

So please bare with me and I will try to make the point clear in the end. Here goes.

Due to my own consuming interest in American Revolutionary history, something it’s obvious king Bush seems to have skipped in all his Ivy League education – especially as it applies to the politics of today – one of my favorite scenes in American film is from Mel Gibson’s The Patriot.

It comes near the end of the movie and is based on true historical accounts of how the American Revolutionary War was fought and won.

The British general Charles Cornwallis, the 1st Marquess Cornwallis, was standing in the fort at Yorktown looking out on the landscape where General George Washington’s Colonial Army has him surrounded on the landside, while the French Navy had him penned in from the sea.

“How could it come to this,” Cornwallis asks his commanding general with disdain in his voice. “An army of rebel peasants. Everything will change. Everything has changed.”

I say, “Your damn right it changed, MF.”

(For more on Cornwallis and the Battle of Yorktown, check these wikipedia links):

Cornwallis

Yorktown

So why do I laugh and revel every time I see that scene on late night cable TV? And what does that have to do with modern American politics?

For me, it is symbolic both of the times that spawned the American Revolution and should be a lesson for those who observe American politics today.

That is, there are still elitist forces both here and abroad who either forget or never believed in or understood the point of the American Revolution. They think they are the only people qualified to govern and that somehow they deserve through some divine right to be rich and powerful, while most of the population deserves nothing more than serfdom.

The Bush family is obviously in that camp, and maybe the Clinton family is there too.

There are editors and publishers in New York – and Birmingham and Montgomery – who behave like they believe they should still be the gatekeepers of all the information in the world, and the only people who should profit from it too.

Did they just study English or journalism – or business – in college? Is the historical point just lost on them?

This country was set up as a secular, pluralistic democratic republic to be governed by the people, not a king or queen who derive their power from ANY god. A person’s station in life and wealth at birth is not the determining factor in where a person should end up in life’s destiny – nor should the location of his or her church membership matter either!

The point of Web publishing is in many ways the same. It reinforces the point. Those of us who believe in the democratizing power of the Web understand the connection to the American tradition in politics and publishing. Some people still don’t get it, but that’s their problem.

It’s the First Amendment stupid … alive and well but hanging by a thread here on the Web.

As Jill Simpson likes to say, “the truth is marching on.”

Now, to prove the point, let’s get on with answering the Montgomery Advertisers’ questions.

An article appeared in the shell of a newspaper in the state capitol today with a list of questions and no answers, even though the answers to many of these questions have already been provided on the Web.

Questions linger in Siegelman case

A year ago this month, Don Siegelman walked into the federal courthouse in Montgomery with family and friends and left in the custody of U.S. marshals. Ever since Alabama’s former governor got more than seven years in federal prison, the case has stayed in the public eye.

The spotlight has not waned as national media continued to cover the case. Last week, Jon Stewart asked his guest on “The Daily Show” about the Siegelman case. The guest was David Iglesias, one of the U.S. attorneys fired by the U.S. Department of Justice. Iglesias, a Republican appointed by Bush, used a “Star Wars” analogy to describe his own situation: “I thought I was working with the Jedi Knights and I was working for the Sith Lords.”

Iglesias pointed to what he believed to be irregularities in the Siegelman case, including the governor’s release after he had already been sentenced and taken into federal custody. Almost two years after Siegelman was convicted, Gov. Bob Riley, in response to questions from the Tuscaloosa News this month, said he told Siegelman in person that he had nothing to do with the prosecution.

There are many points, a year later, that those on both sides have yet to concede or prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And some points that people simply refuse to acknowledge. And it seems that the more we find out, the more questions there are.

Was the prosecution political? If so, does that prosecution stretch all the way to the White House and did it involve Karl Rove or any of the Rileys or Republican activist Bill Canary, whose wife, Leura, is the U.S. attorney here?

From my days of working for newspapers, I’ve never seen a so-called article quite like this one. In my day, we would have at least gotten on the phone and talked to some experts and provided some wisdom on these questions. But since no one at the Montgomery paper has any answers, maybe they need a little help. So here goes.

Yes, as we have already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt based on sworn testimony, the prosecution was political. No court or Congressional committee will ever provide an ultimate answer to that, even though the information is readily available here.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will decide Siegelman’s legal fate based on the law and the arguments of lawyers. The court will never really answer the political question.

Congress may provide some answers with an investigation and a report, but what really matters is the court of public opinion. And since the polls are now showing that a majority of people now understand that it was political and that the Bush administration is corrupt, we already have the answer to that.

Did the prosecution begin before Leura Canary was U.S. attorney for this district, as prosecutors contend? Why does the Justice Department refuse to release hundreds of pages of documents on Leura Canary’s recusal from the case? Why was there a need for hundreds of pages of documents related to the recusal?

Of course it began before that, when then-Attorney General William Pryor first started investigating Siegelman and communicated with the Bush White House about it. U.S. Attorney Alice Martin in Birmingham brought a case first, which was thrown out of court.

Then the task fell to Canary, who made a public show of recusing herself, but never actually filed the proper paperwork and did not stop communicating with the prosecutors chosen to try the case in court. That’s one of the reasons they won’t release the documents.

As for why, that’s a stupid question. I guess you would have to get some experience covering a courthouse to know the answer to that one. Maybe the Advertiser should consider paying real money to hire someone who knows what they are talking about to cover these things.

Riley stated Rove had better things to do than involve himself in the situation – wouldn’t a top White House strategist be occupied with other issues with the nation at war and the fate of Congress in the balance?

Not if one of the key states in the Bush-Rove political machine just happened to be Alabama. And remember, Rove wanted the GOP to take over the country for a generation. Even now, Rove concerns himself with goings on in Alabama. He lives in a house at Rosemary Beach in the Panhandle of Florida, not far from the Alabama line. And the Siegelman case has now reached center stage in the Congressional investigation of him.

Now here’s a relevant question: To what extent did Jill Simpson’s Congressional testimony in this case – and the coverage of her story by the independent Web Press – cause Karl Rove’s forced resignation from the White House last August? Enquiring minds want to know : )

Is Dana Jill Simpson a hero or crazy?

We’ve already answered this question several times, so perhaps the Advertiser needs to teach their reporters how to use Google. I understand that the paper is trying to be politically objective in its approach.

But one of the key hallmarks of real, scientific objectivity is empirical, human observation.

Having met Jill Simpson and after reviewing her documents and testimony, I am here to tell you that Jill Simpson is NOT crazy. She is a hero because she had the courage to turn against a corrupt Bush administration and come out publicly against the Alabama GOP under Riley to try to wrong an injustice.

As a lawyer herself and a true believer in justice, she believed last May and she still believes today that Siegelman and Scrushy did not receive a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

To reiterate from the quote that ended my story in The Nation magazine (which they have not read in Montgomery, apparently):

“It was the right thing to do,” she said. “I just couldn’t walk away from the fact – and there’s no doubt about it – it was a political persecution.”

Riley said her story has no credibility and continues to change. Others contend she is courageous and the only person willing to testify under oath. Why won’t some of the other alleged key players testify under oath if they had absolutely no involvement?

Easy: Because they would have to plead the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination (and everyone would know they are guilty) or they would have to lie under oath (which would be committing perjury).

Did Siegelman really drop his challenge to Riley’s 2002 victory because there were Riley signs planted at a KKK rally in Jackson County, which is what Simpson said in her affidavit?

While this question is a bit inaccurate, it does hint at an open question. It was the threat that the Riley camp would reveal the Siegelman camp’s dirty trick involving the Klan that Ms. Simpson was talking about, along with the threat of a future prosecution if Siegelman did not bow out in 2002 and not run again in 2006. The Canary prosecution pushed by the Justice Department in DC (in communication with Rove) didn’t begin in earnest until Siegelman declared his intention to run for governor again in 2006. If that fact does not support the argument for a political prosecution, I don’t know what fact would convince people.

Would Siegelman and his security not notice that Simpson was following them for months, as she said she did in a television interview? She said she was told to find compromising pictures of Siegelman. If she is so courageous, why was she willing to participate in trying to take compromising pictures? Where was she following him? Why did Simpson come forward only as the sentencing began, not closer to 2002 when the alleged phone conversation occurred? Why not even at the start of the trial a year before?

Maybe they did notice her following them, who knows? Why would that matter? Campaigns spy on each other all the time. She was working as a volunteer for Republicans then, including her friend Rob Riley.

She didn’t come forward before because she was hoping the Scrushy or Siegelman legal teams could prevail over the compromised federal judge and win their release in court.

On the eve of the sentencing, she finally got the courage to come forward in the interest of justice. That really should not be so hard to comprehend. How many people in this country have had the courage to stand up against the Bush family smear machine? Remember, Bush said, “You are either for us, or against us.” Look what happened to little Scotty McClellan just this past week.

Many peaceful activists have been spied on and discriminated against by this administration, so it takes exceptional courage to go against them. And as one friend and source of mine said to me recently who just happens to be in private law enforcement: “Corporate America has all the power and money now. Going up against them, well, you are taking your life in your own hands, believe me. They can be evil bastards.”

Why didn’t prosecutors follow leads against other Republicans implicated by Lanny Young?

Easy. The prosecutors were Republicans doing the bidding of a Republican White House and Justice Department hell bent on political domination for the next generation. There aren’t many career prosecutors who would stand up to that. They would have been fired anyway if they did. Maybe they needed the job to support their families? So they did what they were told.

The court reporter for the case died, but releasing the transcript took more than a year and a half. Why?

One answer: The judge. It’s his responsibility, and he allowed the court reporter’s death to be exploited for a delay. Another indication of a corrupt, biased, partisan judge.

Why did a judge with known political differences with Siegelman hear the case? Should he have recused himself? Why not recuse himself to avoid any appearance of impropriety?

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller was granted a lifetime appointment to the court by President George W. Bush on the recommendation of Senator Jeff Sessions and other Alabama Republicans for the exact purpose to sit in judgment in cases such as the Siegelman case. With all Karl Rove’s talk of “activist liberal judges,” the activist conservative judges seem to be far worse.

Did the government prove quid pro quo? Was the jury instructed that this had to be proven? If there was no quid pro, wasn’t Siegelman still convicted of obstruction of justice involving the motorcycle?

Finally, we get to a couple of questions that will be answered in court. The three-judge panel in Atlanta will most likely take up those questions – and answer them. They make up key questions in the appeal.

Was Nick Bailey instructed to write his testimony over and over again to get it straight?

That question has already been answered in the affirmative, even though prosecutors denied it in the state’s monopoly newspapers. The facts support the contention, not the press release.

Why did the federal government push for the release of key witness Lanny Young because of the effect of the media attention on him in prison? Why is that cause to release Young and not Siegelman?

Well, duh. Can you say “Be my bi-atch?”

Why, a year after the sentencing, did federal prosecutors decide not to pursue the longer sentences they had requested?

Easy. Their case on appeal and in the court of public opinion was falling apart.

After hundreds of accusations by both sides and articles and reports on “60 Minutes” and in the New York Times and Time magazine (and Harpers.org and LocustFork.Net), so many questions still surround the case. Now, people want to know if the verdict will be overturned or if Siegelman will be pardoned by the next president. This leads to yet another question. How long it will take for this to play out?

Some ending. If the case is overturned, which seems likely by Christmas, there will be no need for a presidential pardon, now will there?

Reach Sebastian Kitchen at 205-240-0141 or by e-mail at skitchen@gannett.com and tell him to read the Locust Fork News and Journal, will you?

Oh, we know. There might be some “bad old” information out there on the “Internets” like the Big Bad Wolf (or Tom Wolfe). And it might corrupt the simple minds of some men and women everywhere. Besides, we don’t sell our product in a box on the street corner or mail it to your house – just your e-mail inbox.

So sue us – we’d get all the publicity : )

© 2008 – 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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