Just Imagine

Can you imagine what the GOP’s own message man, Alex Castellanos, would do with commercials with this information:

Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.

Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors.

I’m sure Mark Halperin or one of the bobbleheads will inform us this is actually good news for Huckabee because it takes the spotlight off Palin.

65 replies
  1. 1
    funluvn says:

    Karma is a fickle bitch. The wheel of life continues to turn and unforseeable consequences continue to happen.

  2. 2
    Kryptik says:

    Strong on crime!…except when it suits us.

    Eh, no one will give a shit anyways, after all, Tiger Woods had a car crash, and didn’t you hear that Obama is dithering?!

    Goodness gracious, who could dare waste their precious and beautiful minds on such a non-story like this?

  3. 3
    Incertus says:

    More proof that Huckabee isn’t a trooconsurvativ–he lets people out of jail instead of executing them.

  4. 4
    Ash Can says:

    But it’s OK because Huckabee is a conservative and a Republican, and everyone knows that Republicans are tough on crime, so don’t you go worrying that pretty little head of yours over it. Also.

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    Sarah Palin is celebrating this one. Huckabee is her current competition for the Evangelical vote. This just proves he’s soft on crime.

  6. 6
    catclub says:

    I am sure Huckabee really really want Wayne Dumond
    brought up again and again, since that was even more egregious than the Clemmons Clemency.

    Clemmons Clemency is almost as euphonious
    as smock when Hobbes says it.
    Smock, smock, smock.
    Don’t mock my smock.

  7. 7
    beltane says:

    Well, this shows that Huckabee is a true Christian who puts his faith over other people’s lives, especially the lives of cops, who work for the government and belong to a union, which are evil and un-American. This is just Mike Huckabee’s way of getting tough on the unions. Why are you a such a socialist?

  8. 8

    Proof, if any were needed that clemency and pardons are a threat to society. Also, if only the officers had had guns!


    Watch, they’ll fap out a few words on the martyrdom of St. Mike and then shut up. If it turns out Clemmons wasn’t the shooter, more fapping over the mean nasty liberals and their rush to judgement. If it is Clemmons, more screaming about how they’re the real victims. Until a Democrat grants a pardon.

    Unless we get really lucky and this turns into another internal war: The Rombots vs. The TalEvangicals.

  9. 9
    Senyordave says:

    Huck will be lucky if he keeps his gig on Faux news after this. Couldn’t happen to a more smug, self-righteous pile of crap.

  10. 10
    khead says:

    I imagine Alex would take this opportunity to start a discussion about reasonable uses of clemency authority like Yglesias.

    What? That’s not what y’all were imagining?

  11. 11
    Keith G says:

    Tim Pawlenty has to be liking how ’09 is drawing to a close.

  12. 12
    MikeJ says:

    Huckabee is already saying it’s Washington’s fault.

    BTW, local news is really, really bad. Yesterday the cops were going around the neighborhood where the guy lived, showing his picture to people and asking if they had any info on him. One of the newscasters (I can’t remember which) thought it damning that people who lived in his neighborhood recognized him.

  13. 13
    Patrick says:

    And I expect the right will declare that this was a terrorist attack. Yeah, right . . . and pigs will fly out my ass!

  14. 14
    HRA says:

    How stupid is stupid? There are comments out there blaming Obama and change for the crime. Then one saying doesn’t the supposed perp look like Michelle Obama.

    We are beyond the scrapings of the bottom of the barrel in intelligence.

  15. 15
    Napoleon says:

    IMO this takes the biggest challenge Palin could have in the ’12 contest out of the picture.

  16. 16
    Keith G says:

    @Violet: I would be surprised if Palin made a good faith run at the White House in ’12. I think now she is all about Palin Inc. I have no doubt that she will manipulate the possibility of a “run” for maximum brand exposure, but certainly by now she has been appraised about the hard impacts that would result from a legitimate campaign.

  17. 17
    beltane says:

    @HRA: The amount of sludge that has accumulated at the bottom of the barrel known as the USA is truly staggering. And why? We haven’t been invaded, occupied, oppressed, or subjected to the consequences of a total, all-encompassing economic meltdown. People are just nasty for no fucking reason.

  18. 18
    jeffreyw says:

    Two years out from the elections, I just don’t see any real contenders on the Rethug side. This is about the time in the last cycle that Bama showed up. No one gave him much of a chance then. I think the eventual Rethug nominee is on no one’s radar right now. I just can’t believe that Palin will get the nod, and she has a better chance than Huck.

  19. 19
    Laertes says:

    Governors shouldn’t be held responsible for the future crimes of every inmate that gets clemency. Too bad for Huck his next opponents are Republicans. Dems wouldn’t have the guts to shiv him with him. Huck isn’t stupid. He knows what his party is. He’s got to know what’s going to happen to him in the primaries.

    I honestly feel sorry for him.

  20. 20
    Keith G says:

    @Laertes: This does make it less likely that even the truly deserving will be granted clemency. Too bad.

  21. 21
    Maude says:

    @Laertes: I would think that you’d feel sorry for the loved ones of the cops killed in cold blood, not Huckabee.

  22. 22
    OriGuy says:

    Maha pointed out that the first thing that Huckabee did in office was move up the execution date for Frankie Parker. But he had converted to Buddhism; Wayne Dumond had become a Christian, so he was eligible for clemency. It’s not clear why Maurice Clemmons got clemency, but I bet he didn’t become a Muslim.

  23. 23
    Laertes says:


    Oh dear. Must it be one or the other? I wasn’t aware.

  24. 24
    mk3872 says:

    Dems have no one to blame but themselves if they miss this opportunity to use it to erode Huckabee’s credibility.

  25. 25
    dmsilev says:

    @jeffreyw: Three years out is still long enough that someone could appear. Most of the exploratory committees and actual announcements will wait until after the midterm elections, though a good tell on who is planning to run a serious campaign is to look at people who are very actively endorsing and campaigning for local candidates during the midterms.


  26. 26
    Keith G says:

    @Maude: That was just plain silly, infantile.

  27. 27
    gex says:

    The worst part about this is that it will just make people double down on the tough on crime rather than dig into the real problem: Huckabee’s pardoning decisions were based largely on whether he judged the criminal to be sufficiently dedicated to Jesus to be pardoned. Meanwhile the rational actors in the system agreed, indeed, that this man should not have been released.

  28. 28
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but guess who this benefits even more than Pawlenty and Palin?

    Rick “Gov. Goodhair” Perry.

    If he decides he wants to run for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination, he can point out that Texas would have put that guy down rather than release him, and we have the record to back it up.

    Sorry, Paul Burka’s got me spooked about this. There’s really no reason for Perry to run for another term as Governor in 2010 except that he’s angling for the White House in 2012.

  29. 29
    JenJen says:

    I recall that during the GOP Primaries, there were “concerns” about Governor Huckabee’s generous usage of clemency, especially in cases where the convicted, you know, found the Lord in prison.

    The article says one of the reasons for clemency in this case was his young age when he was convicted, but I bet there’s more to this story. And yeah, I imagine Halperin will find this to be excellent news, or something.

  30. 30
    Keith G says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: Are you from Texas? Talk about spitting out my latte (pumpkin spice, thank you).

    Well I am. Perry can not win a primary – even dumb-ass Texans Republicans would feel bad voting him into an office that actually matters. This dimwits heads is full of little but platitudes an dead air. He wins here b/c he is a Republican in Texas, and also b/c the Democratic party here is still lost in the weeds.

  31. 31
    Keith G says:

    Oh gawd I need an edit option, John.

  32. 32
    2th&nayle says:

    @Maude: What? How the hell can you take what was said and turn it into a condescending, asinine, comment like that? Did you double up on your sanctimony pills this morning, or what? Geez

  33. 33
    JenJen says:

    Well, this is rather rich:

    Huckabee Cites System’s ‘Failures’ In Response To Washington Police Killings

    That’s some nice buck-passage to the parole board, Huck!

  34. 34
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Keith G:

    This dimwits heads is full of little but platitudes an dead air.

    The same was said about his predecessor; look where that got us.

    I’m a Texan too, and I agree that for us Perry’s little more than a joke, but we know him. Think of a non-teabagger Republican from the Midwest who knows dick about Perry and Texas politics. What would they see? Among the things Burka points out, I think these are the most important:

    4. He has the best conservative record of any contender: significant tort reform, a large property tax cut, refusal to raise taxes in the face of a $10 billion budget deficit (2003), declining to expand government by accepting strings-attached unemployment insurance stimulus funds, implementing efforts to enhance border security. During his tenure as governor, Texas has been active in passing social legislation, including a strong abortion bill in 2003 and a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. You can argue that the effect of the property tax cut was wiped out by rising appraisals, or that his border security efforts were all for show, but it adds up to a record that will be popular with Republican voters.
    8. He has not one but two strong messages. One is the familiar refrain that Washington is corrupt to the core and out of touch with Main Street. The second is the Texas economic miracle: that by following conservative fiscal policies, Texas has been able to survive the recession in better shape than most, if not all, other states. Low taxes, low spending, constitutionally mandated balanced budgets, saving for a rainy day, and business-friendly regulatory policies have made Texas the top state in job creation year after year. Perry can say to residents of the other states: Do what Texas did and you can enjoy economic growth too. It is a strong message in a recession.

    Then there’s the nuts and bolts side of things:

    3. He is governor of the biggest red state that sends the most delegates to the Republican convention.
    7. He has an extensive fundraising apparatus in Texas that is capable of raising enough money to make the race, and he is now in charge of finance for the Republican Governor’s Association, giving him access to the GOP’s big national donors.

    I’m worried because he’s the tallest midget in the field and nobody outside of Texas knows anything about him. Sure, we know he’s a joke, but we knew W. was a joke too.

  35. 35
    Joel says:

    O/T but not really. Clemmons is still at large. I’m no death penalty advocate, but I’d make an exception for this fuck.

  36. 36
    Balconesfault says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    There’s really no reason for Perry to run for another term as Governor in 2010 except that he’s angling for the White House in 2012.

    Hmm … haven’t we just spent the last 6 months being lectured to by the same crowd that will end up having to be Perry’s core of support “it was good that Sarah resigned her governorship if she’s running for President, because you can’t do a good job as governor while running”?

  37. 37
    RSA says:

    @JenJen: Yeah, I liked that:

    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. 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.

    Huckabee is fine with active-verb sentences when it comes to blaming the parole board (“they determined”) and prosecutors (“prosecutors dropped the charges”) but when it comes to his own role, he can’t bring himself to say, “I commuted his sentence.” Mistakes were made.

  38. 38
    tenkindsagrumpy says:

    Oh, ye of little faith, I declare Huckabee toast.

  39. 39
    jayjaybear says:

    The Dumond stuff didn’t really get any traction last year, but it’s possible that adding Clemmons to Dumond will torpedo the Huckster.

    Then again, if Republicans actually had consistent principles, they wouldn’t be embracing the batcaca insane as their base.

  40. 40
    Demo Woman says:

    Earlier this morning the local FOX station mentioned the pardon but did not mention who was the governor. Does any one know whether or not Huckabee’s name has been mentioned on the national Fox station?
    Good Morning America has a police officer who discussed the problems that the state of Arkansas made with the person of interest.

  41. 41
    feebog says:

    I wonder why more is not being made of this point:

    Also, if only the officers had had guns!

    Four armed and trained cops get ambushed in a coffee shop. Only one has time to draw his weapon and fire. I hear arguments all the time about how concealed carry of weapons makes people safer. Really? If someone comes at you with a weapon already drawn, you think you are somehow going to fast draw them and lay them out? There are a lot of lessons to be learned here, and one of them is that carrying a concealed weapon makes you safer.

  42. 42
    Keith G says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: The nuts and bolts of what you say are true enough, but I do not feel that they will construct a vehicle that can move down the road, as it were.

    For outsiders unfamiliar with the sad humor that is our governor, here is a quick overview.

    Last year Rick Perry won the Turkey Politician of the Year award for his prissy response to Mayor Bill White’s cursing incident during Ike; this year he takes the whole turkey enchilada for a stunningly entertaining and embarrassing string of events that brought applause from the tea-bag minority of the country and derision from the rest.

    For the rest:


    If nothing else, the last tragedy from Texas may have spoiled it for him. I do not think it will be that easy to establish enough cred to be taken seriously by the what’s left of the GOP hierarchy.

    But, hey, a spring with Perry stomping about the country trying to get the nomination would be fiendishly fun.

  43. 43
    BombIranForChrist says:

    What I don’t understand is: Why? Why did he commute the sentence? I don’t get it. What’s the angle?

  44. 44
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @BombIranForChrist: Didn’t some other prominent winger convince Huck that Clemmons had been railroaded by the left or something? I seem to remember that with one of the controversial cases that came up during the republican primary in 08. Or, who knows with these guys, rape isn’t really a crime, only the abortion after that.

    Sorry, don’t feel like looking it up, just my foggy memories here.

  45. 45
    gwangung says:

    @BombIranForChrist: Far as I can tell, it was because Clemmons was under 18 at the time of the crimes, which was burglary and theft (non violent crimes), yet the sentence was over 60 years. Considered in isolation, there’s a case to be made for commuting such a long sentence for such a young offender.

    (Considering other factors, of course, leads the other way–particularly the parole violations; but the point is that this isn’t a slam dunk case).

  46. 46
    Pangloss says:

    Imagine how Dukakis feels.

  47. 47
    licensed to kill time says:

    Heard about that this morning and I thought: “Huckabee Hears a Horton”. Willie, that is.

  48. 48
    Randy P says:

    @Demo Woman:

    They’ll probably do all they can to insinuate that it happened under Bill Clinton’s governorship.

    Up to and including “accidentally” putting that on the character generator.

  49. 49
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:


    I’m not worried about the teabaggers; they have their messiah and they can keep her. I’m worried about the people who stayed home or held their nose and voted for Obama only because they weren’t clinically insane. People who would have voted for a Republican any other year but couldn’t bring themselves to elect Darth Grampa Simpson and Caribou Barbie. I fear that Perry could appeal to a large number of those voters, enough to make the race competitive.

    I know it sounds like I’m concern trolling, but I can’t argue with Burka’s premise that Perry is angling for 2012, and the possibility scares the fuck out of me because of how stupid we can be as country sometimes.

  50. 50
    Anoniminous says:

    Don’t misunderestimate the stupidity of Evangelicals. Even some evangelicals — OK, one: Prof. Mark Noll — think “The tragedy of the evangelical mind is there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Attacking Huckabee will only reinforce the “Oppressed Christian” meme, as Prof. Karen Armstrong has tirelessly pointed out in her books.

    If it does become A Problem the Huck can do the Repentant Sinner shtick and move on.

  51. 51
    Anoniminous says:


    Oops. Make that “the scandal of the evangelical mind.”

  52. 52
    Balconesfault says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    I know it sounds like I’m concern trolling, but I can’t argue with Burka’s premise that Perry is angling for 2012, and the possibility scares the fuck out of me because of how stupid we can be as country sometimes.

    As a fellow Texan, I share your concern. Perry is stupid enough to make Bush look insightful, and beholden to the religous right enough to make W seem like Poppy.

    His Kryptonite might be the secession comments last spring.

  53. 53
    Lee says:

    Here is a great post with a little more accurate reporting.

  54. 54


    I am sure Huckabee really really want Wayne Dumond
    brought up again and again, since that was even more egregious than the Clemmons Clemency.

    Especially as the sole reason Dumond was granted clemency was to piss off Bill Clinton, whose female relative had survived a savage attack by Dumond. Huckabee and his fellow wingnuts pretended instead that Dumond had been framed by the Evil Clintons and thus deserved freedom.

    A freedom he then used to rape and murder at least one more young woman, and very likely two.

  55. 55
    Ash Can says:

    @Keith G:

    I think now she is all about Palin Inc.

    I’m inclined to agree. When she announced her resignation from the Alaskan governorship, I was convinced that a whopping huge indictment was about to come down. When that didn’t happen, and the book deal, op-eds, and talk-show appearances did, it finally dawned on me that she was just in it for the money. She’ll continue to shake the system down as long as it doesn’t involve any real work, and until she basically implodes and ends up with every door slammed in her face (because there’s no way she’ll be savvy enough not to push things too far).

    So that leaves Huck, who’s likely sunk on the law-and-order/judgment issue now; Perry, whose opponents may be able to sink him on the secession issue; Romney, Pawlenty, and whomever else. Three years is plenty of time for a relative unknown to emerge on the scene, so who knows what will happen? McCain more or less defaulted into his party’s nomination in the wake of disagreement among the different factions within the party’s base. Unless and until the GOP finds a way to deal with that issue — and, judging from their shiny new 10-step purity test, that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon — there’s no reason to believe it won’t be like that in 2012 too.

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:


    There’s also the problem that, by all accounts, Clemmons is mentally ill and seems to have had a serious psychotic break since he apparently told his family he could fly and that President Obama was coming by to visit him. How could he have been in and out of the criminal justice system so many times and no one noticed that he was delusional?

    Of course, my sister-in-law’s boyfriend has been in and out of jail for years and no one seems to have picked up on the fact that he’s clearly bipolar in addition to his addiction problems. Once you’re in the criminal justice system, your chances of getting any kind of meaningful mental health treatment are pretty much nil.

  57. 57
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Maude: Are the two mutually exclusive?

  58. 58
    LD50 says:


    I honestly feel sorry for him.

    I don’t. Huckabee has cast his lot with a bunch of scumbags and now he gets to find out firsthand how scumbags treat people. Fuck ‘im.

  59. 59
    Anoniminous says:


    Because the Police and DAs only care about the conviction rate, the judges want to clear their case load as fast a possible, and Public Defenders are overwhelmed. And none of these are subject to penalty for wrongful conviction, evidence tampering, & so on.

    Plus the large percentage of the US population who think mental illness is caused by demons.

  60. 60
    Ed in NJ says:

    I don’t think Huckabee can overcome this. He’s toast. The Malkinites never trusted him, and this seals it. They are attacking him relentlessly. Of course, it has been framed as a “soft on crime” issue, which will hurt him in the primaries. The real issue, on a national level, is his inability to separate church and state, and his impaired judgement because of it. Democrats would be wise to tie this into Bush’s holy wars.

  61. 61
    Elie says:

    I think this guy Clemmons is still on the loose…

    Very scary situation.

    If he is crazy, he is organized crazy — not just delusional and acting out. Could mean he isnt done with it yet and that is scarier.

    The speculation is that he also got wounded in a struggle with one of the victims. Perhaps. He may be holed up seriously injured or dead..

    Most of all to me itt is a horrible thing that sends so many messages about how small towns live — with a quarter of the police force sitting quietly in the same place at change of shift, with little suspicion about the surrounding community. How sad to see that change for them and their community…

  62. 62
    Joel says:

    @Elie: Lakewood ain’t a small town. It’s basically outer Tacoma. It’s sandwiched between Tacoma and Fort Lewis.

  63. 63
    Maude says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Sorry this is late. Huckabee is safe, I haven’t laid the blame at his feet because I don’t know the full story. He is getting crit for his action. That’s not at all the same as what those families of the 4 police are going through.
    I can’t feel sorry for a political fall out. I can feel so very sorry for those who will suffer for the rest of their lives.
    To me, the two are not in the same realm.
    The blame is with the shooter.

  64. 64
    Snarla says:

    There’s also the problem that, by all accounts, Clemmons is mentally ill and seems to have had a serious psychotic break since he apparently told his family he could fly and that President Obama was coming by to visit him. How could he have been in and out of the criminal justice system so many times and no one noticed that he was delusional?

    Well, to take a page from what the wingnuts have been saying about Major Hasan: It’s because of political correctness, because people were too afraid of being called bigots if they reported his alarming beliefs to the authorities or took steps to address them.

    Interesting that what’s terrorism when a Muslim does it just a heinous crime when a Christian does it, and that a Christian governor pardoning a Christian felon is well and good, but Muslims should be drummed out of the military.

  65. 65
    Elie says:


    I’m from WA state but up north near Bellingham. I get your technical point that Lakewood is not the typical “small town”. Still, the cops felt safe enough to do that kind of shift change. You don’t do that if you don’t trust the community. That was my point really. That has changed forever and that is sad to me.


    Clemmons is probably a paranoid schizophrenic and probably has been for a while. If he is not dead or injured somewhere, he is scheming, which means he is organized enough mentally to plan other things. Not good.

    Mental illness is highly prevalent in the US and generally untreated or undertreated. It is one of my biggest health care concerns and its cost is beyond calculation, impacting our social and cultural wellbeing way beyond what anyone would imagine. Mental illness makes everything worse — chronic conditions, social relationships, mental/cognitive functionality. Treatment is primitive, generally using mostly drugs with horrendous side effects and limited effectiveness. People go off their meds because the side effects are unbearable. Our psychiatric resources are so limited that its pitiful — even for the wealthy. Our limited serious therapists have stacks of charts on their desks for thousands of seriously impaired people.

    We are god damned lucky that most of the mentally ill are too disorganized and sick to be violent. They just suffer their bitter fates, and destroy the hearts of their families that have to turn them loose in despair…

    No — this is the heart of darkness. Right here in this rich, spoiled nation. No help in sight — no reality beyond the faint hope that health reform may start to scratch the most tiny surface of this issue…Let us hope so.

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