Saturday, March 31, 2007

We Got Fooled Again!

Nothing Bush has done has invited as many comparisons to Watergate as has the recent US Attorney Scandal.
New Developments in the U.S. Attorney Controversy: Why Bush Refuses to Allow Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to Testify Before Congress, and What Role New White House Counsel Fred Fielding May Play

US Atty Scandal Shines Light on Bush Adminstration Voter Suppression Efforts

Bush Administration's Stubborn Stonewall Stands In The Way Of The Truth

Gonzales' former aide rode the fast track
While many Bush abuses may be more ominous from a Constitutional standpoint, a partisan, wholesale firing of US attorneys summons a lot of bad memories. Most notably Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. When Richardson refused, Nixon fired Richardson, tapping Solicitor General Robert H. Bork to do the dirty deed.

Nixon abolished the office of the special prosecutor and turned over to the Justice Department the entire responsibility for further investigation and prosecution of suspects and defendants in Watergate and related cases. It was then that we understood the degree to which Nixon was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was then that his fate was sealed. Eventually, the task of prosecuting Watergate fell to a Texan -Leon Jaworski of Houston:
In July 1974 he argued the case of United States v. Nixon before the United States Supreme Court and won a unanimous decision ordering President Richard Nixon to turn over to the district court magnetic audio tapes that implicated him and members of his staff in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. Shortly thereafter, President Nixon resigned from office. Jaworski published his account of the Watergate prosecution as The Right and the Power (1976).

--The Handbook of Texas Online

Watergate is memorable for its Orwellian use of phrases like executive privilege. It is more reasonable to assert that executive privilege is a mere fiction, invented by presidents to enhance their power. The process began with George Washington:
The Constitution nowhere expressly mentions executive privilege. Presidents have long claimed, however, that the constitutional principle of separation of powers implies that the Executive Branch has a privilege to resist certain encroachments by Congress and the judiciary, including some requests for information.

For example, in 1796, President Washington refused to comply with a request by the House of Representatives for documents relating to the negotiation of the then-recently adopted Jay Treaty with England. The Senate alone plays a role in the ratification of treaties, Washington reasoned, and therefore the House had no legitimate claim to the material. Accordingly, Washington provided the documents to the Senate but not the House.

Eleven years later, the issue of executive privilege arose in court. Counsel for Aaron Burr, on trial for treason, asked the court to issue a subpoena duces tecum--an order requiring the production of documents and other tangible items--against President Thomas Jefferson, who, it was thought, had in his possession a letter exonerating Burr.

After hearing several days of argument on the issue, Chief Justice John Marshall issued the order commanding Jefferson to produce the letter. Marshall observed that the Sixth Amendment right of an accused to compulsory process contains no exception for the President, nor could such an exception be found in the law of evidence. In response to the government's suggestion that disclosure of the letter would endanger public safety, Marshall concluded that, if true, this claim could furnish a reason for withholding it, but that the court, rather than the Executive Branch alone, was entitled to make the public safety determination after examining the letter.

-A Brief History of Executive Privilege from George Washington through Dick Cheney, Michael Dorf, Findlaw

Executives will continue to raise the issue. When the right wing has packed the court, it will raise the issue yet again, hoping that a friendly court will give an ambitious, would-be dictator a favorable ruling on the issue of executive privilege.

In the meantime, the recent scandals remind us that the legacy of Watergate is but the latest in some three decades of GOP corruption, lies, and incompetent mismanagement.

Alas, the lessons that we thought had been learned by Watergate were not learned by the GOP. The GOP learned all the wrong lessons. The GOP learned how not to get caught. Reagan was more successful in hushing it all up than was Nixon. Though it is fondly remembered by the GOP faithful, the Reagan administration put the Nixon White House in the shade. If you are truly concerned about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, then you must surely remember that it was Ronald Reagan who armed Iran in a convoluted plan to arm and finance the "contras" in Nicaragua. Arming an avowed enemy of the United States is treason.

Was Reagan himself involved? I believe he was and so did Lawrence Walsh, the special prosecutor charged with investigating what must surely have been a case of high treason:
The underlying facts of Iran/contra are that, regardless of criminality, President Reagan, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the director of central intelligence and their necessary assistants committed themselves, however reluctantly, to two programs contrary to congressional policy and contrary to national policy. They skirted the law, some of them broke the law, and almost all of them tried to cover up the President's willful activities.

-Lawrence Walsh, Concluding Observations, Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters

The lessons of Watergate were not learned by the GOP. Think of it -with the possible exception of Gerald Ford, a light weight -every Republican President since Richard Nixon has been either a crook or a liar. It is easy to conclude that the GOP, therefore, is not a political party. It's a crime syndicate, a criminal conspiracy. As Viet Nam was winding down and Watergate heating up, we vowed not ever to be fooled again. What went wrong?
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.

-Georges Santayana, American Philsopher



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6 comments:

Fuzzflash said...

"We Got Fooled Again!" Yes, Len, The Who lied to us although they meant well. These are show business people, freely given to hyperbole and hype.
As indeed are several recent American Presidents. Unfortunately, We The People, relly got dealt a number when The Imbecile's handlers stitched up three consecutive elections. Through Gushing Harrie Miers, Turd-Blossom Rove and Abu Gonzales, these scum are still trying to bullshit the punters.

Now, however, voters have jerried that these swine are still trying to pull the same old strokes. And you can't fool all the people all of the time, as the sage said.

All BushCo have got left are the propaganda tools of MSM mediated fear with lashings of jingoism. There is no other hand they can play with their credibility shot to the shit-house, as it is. If Damien is on the money, the Imbecile-In-Chief will order Iran whacked between the next full moons. This is the only play The Outfit has left. The 15 Brit mariners could quite easily become a BushCo casus belli, "These axis of evilers need to be shown where the line in the sand, err, I mean, water is."

Gonzalez can't last. It's getting like Weekend At Bernie's at the White House. Rove is going to have to testify under subpoena on the sacked judges caper or force a Constitutional Crisis which Bush can't win on 33% approval rating without the peasants revolting. The Wilson/Plame civil suit is gathering steam which could draw Cheney into testifying under oath in open court. A hard rain's comin' down on this presidency. Many GOP core supporters now find themselves compelled to up-medicate from the once trusty prozac.

So why wouldn't the greedy crazy war-mongering bastards put a big stick about Iran? It's what they do isn't it?

Len Hart said...

The Who lied to us although they meant well. These are show business people, freely given to hyperbole and hype.

I remember their song well. It first appeared on a Who LP in 1971, as I recall. The Watergate burglaries would not take place place until May and June of 1972. The who were definitely prescient.

We The People, relly got dealt a number when The Imbecile's handlers stitched up three consecutive elections. Through Gushing Harrie Miers, Turd-Blossom Rove and Abu Gonzales, these scum are still trying to bullshit the punters.

Indeed, this swine, this "scum", as you so accurately characterize them, have dominated American politics for at least thirty years. Enough already. They are right about one thing, however. There are not enough prisons, not enough jails. It will be ironic if the lot of them wind up in a "corporate" jail, outsourced by a crooked GOPPER to a crony corporate jailer.

Gonzalez can't last.

I just hope that Gonzalez is the first of many dominoes to fall.

SadButTrue said...

The Who didn't lie to anybody. The last verse of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' clearly states, 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss. If the systemic issues standing in the way of real government, 'of the people, for the people, by the people' aren't addressed, that is the result you can expect.

How about a top ten list of concepts that overtly control American democracy, but are not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights? I'll get the ball rolling:

- Big-money Campaign Financing
- The Lobbying Industry
- Corporate Personhood
- The Military Industrial Complex
- Complicit Misleading Media
- Disenchanted Electorate
- Electronic Voting Machines

*Drumroll*
And the number one thing controlling American Politics but not even mentioned in any of its founding documents:

- The Two Party System

Len Hart said...

Sadbuttrue said...

The last verse of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' clearly states, 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I think Fuzzflash will agree with the tone of the Who. Clearly, they came from a position of complete disillusionment with the "establishment". It was at about the same time that Joan Baez released "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down", a poignant lament. Clearly, Baez was not (nor "The Band" before her) supporting those pernicious institutions that we associate with the south. Rather, she laments the loss of innocence, the rise of cynicism.

How about a top ten list of concepts that overtly control American democracy, but are not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights?

Great idea! I alluded to one or two as I recall. Clearly, the left will support labor unions as representing their interests. The right will, of course, support the Military/Industrial complex and the lobbies whose job it is to secure lucrative contracts.

Aside from rampant corruption, there is a fundamental difference with regard to corporate power. Corporations are, by law, treated as if they were individuals. One corporation, as I recall, has asserted the right of "Free Speech". That is all nonsense, of course. I support an amendment that strips corporations of their "personhood".

Fuzzflash said...

Bless me Father Sad for I have sinned-----guilty, one fears, of shameful and sloppy pop/rock hagiography and a gratuitous, indeed calumnious lash at an iconic power trio. My salvation shall be enhanced by placing a restraining order ( fatwa) on the Acid Queen and that Wicked Uncle Ernie, and promise(junior woodchuck's honour).... no more cheap throw-away lines from this deaf dumb and blind kid whose lifelong quest is, and has always been, for a more challenging pin-ball machine. The last thing I wanna lose is my touch.

Now, mon ami, as you've got the (pin)ball rolling on:
"a top ten list of concepts that overtly control American democracy, but are not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights", there's one I'd like to add to make up our top ten (huit de toi, un de Len)

*bongo-roll* (fingers on skin, man):

The Manichean-minded arseholes who run Christian fundamentalism in all its forms, from prayer towers in Tulsa to cathedrals in St.Louis. These money-sucking animals, gee-up rubes to place total credence in their "one true brand" of epistemological Ponzi scheme. The Ted Haggerts and Pat Robertsons are vicious control-freaks, yet Guiness Book Of Hypocrites to boot. Amongst other things, these phoney spiritual shitbird shamens have millions of wood-ducks believing that T-Rex was a vegetarian dinosaur with a terrestrial acquaintance of only a few thousand years. In a flash of ecological brilliance, God created TRexie with razor-sharp, serrated teeth because in his wisdom, he foresaw that such dentition was all the better for cracking coconuts with. I jest not. cf. current homepage of Truthdig.org.

So, Sad, do these schmucks qualify for your top ten?

Len Hart said...

Fuzzflash said...

The last thing I wanna lose is my touch.

You have nothing to fear, Fuzz.

These money-sucking animals, gee-up rubes to place total credence in their "one true brand" of epistemological Ponzi scheme.

"Epistemological Ponzi scheme" sums up an entire mindset if not the conservative movement itself. Well done!!!