In discussions of President George W. Bush's proclamation on Jul. 2, 2007, to commute I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence, we are told again and again by commentators in the media that the power of the president to pardon crimes against the United States and commute sentences is absolute.  --  Thus:  "The power [to grant reprieves and pardons] is absolute," says John Van Deerlin (Bend [OR] Weekly, Jun. 15, 2007).  --  "Since clemency powers under the constitution are absolute, all lawmakers can do speak out against it," says George McGinn of AHN. -- ". . . an absolute Presidential power that is beyond Congressional review," says John Bambenek.  --  "This power is absolute, and a pardon may not be blocked by Congress or the courts," say Ron Hutcheson and William Douglas of McClatchy Newspapers (The State [Columbia, SC], Jul. 4, 2007).  --  While this is technically true in the sense that no one can reverse a presidential pardon, it is important to note that James Madison, often called the Father of the Constitution, said explicitly on Apr. 6, 1796, that under the U.S. Constitution there is, after all, recourse available for the abuse of this power:  impeachment.[1] ...


The following text, extracted from a debate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 13, 1869, illustrates in embryo political and constitutional issues that a century and a half later have brought the American Republic to its present, precarious state.[1]  --  It illustrates the pressures of U.S. business interests in favor of transferring authority from Congress to the executive for the purposes of using American power to advance their interests in ways that inevitably lead to war.  --  The best lines belong to a now forgotten figure, Samuel Shellabarger (1817-1896) of Ohio, whose grandson became a bestselling novelist.  --  Shellabarger, a prominent political figure, was a theoretician of Reconstruction and was Rutherford B. Hayes’s personal attorney in the disputed election of 1876.  --  The villain of the piece is also now mostly forgotten, though he was one of the most famous figures of his time.  --  Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893) was a willful, shrewd, flamboyant, and unscrupulous presidential aspirant.  --  Commercial interests had long sought to induce the U.S. government to acquire Caribbean territory.  --  They prevailed only in the generation following the Civil War, when the curtain rose on Act I of the drama of American imperialism.  --  But in this fascinating early skirmish, the imperialists go down to defeat....


The web site Radio Darvish is devoted to traditional Persian music.[1]  --  Linux Pro Magazine's "Sound Surfer" column explained recently that the site is named after Darvish Khan (1872-1926), a Tehran musician who performed on traditional Persian instruments.[2]  --  A member of the Yahoo "Persian music" listserv explained that "Radio Darvish is a free online Radio which broadcasts an excellent selection of Persian Traditional Music. This Radio is the result of hard work and passion of Mr. Afshin Toloee and is included in the international section of Apple Computer's iTunes."  --  Afshin Toloee, as best we can determine, works in IT in the San Francisco Bay Area....