Justice For Thee, But Not For Me

17 comments December 9th, 2006at 11:10am Posted by Eli

Remember that Foley guy? Used to be a congressman, had kind of a creepy thing for underage pages, and the Republican leadership looked the other way? NYT has something to say about him, or rather, his enablers. Um, would you believe his enablers’ enablers?

Watching our elected leaders in action, it’s not surprising that Americans wonder if there is any limit to the crass misbehavior that members of Congress are willing to tolerate from their colleagues to protect their privileges and hold on to their own jobs. The House ethics committee answered that question yesterday with a resounding “No.”

Sixty-four days after it promised to find out who knew about Representative Mark Foley’s wildly inappropriate, sexually predatory behavior with teenage House pages, and why they failed to stop it, the bipartisan committee produced a report yesterday that was a 91-page exercise in cowardice.

The report’s authors were clearly more concerned about protecting the members of the House than the young men and women under their charge in the page program. And they made absolutely no effort to define the high standard of behavior that should be required of all members of Congress and their staffs.

….The report makes clear that Mr. Foley’s misconduct became known to an ever-widening circle of his colleagues and their aides, including Speaker Dennis Hastert. But no one made any serious attempt to stop Mr. Foley or reveal his misdeeds. A few urged him to cut it out, for political reasons, but did not follow up.

The committee concluded that other people preferred to remain willfully ignorant — to protect Mr. Foley’s secret homosexuality, to avoid partisan embarrassment or for other political reasons.

But even after all that, the report said that none of this amounted to the sort of behavior that might discredit the House of Representatives and thus violate ethics rules. The committee, which never heard from Mr. Foley, did not call for disciplinary action against current members of the House or their staffs….

The panel’s justification for inaction is a breathtaking exercise in sophistry: “the requirement that House members and staff act at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House does not mean that every error in judgment or failure to exercise greater oversight or diligence” is a violation.

No, not every error or failure should be a violation, but certainly the ones that lead to an elected official’s sexually stalking teenage boys while his colleagues turn a blind eye or cover it up should be. We’d set the bar at least there. Apparently, it’s too high for the House.

Oy. Maybe this should have waited until the Democrats took over. Assuming that that would have helped.

This speaks to a huge structural problem with our supposedly self-policing government: That guilt or innocence is never decided by an impartial jury, but rather by congresspeople with clear-cut political affiliations and loyalties. Imagine a murder trial where the jury is composed solely of the defendant’s friends and enemies (and furthermore, that only a simple majority is needed to convict). The testimony and evidence in the case would be irrelevant – all that would matter would be whether the defendant had more friends than enemies on the jury.

That is the situation that we had eight years ago, when Clinton was frivolously impeached, simply because his enemies controlled Congress. That is the situation we have today, when Foley’s enablers got off because their friends control the ethics panel. President Bush admitted to breaking the law in his use of wireless wiretapping and uncontestable detentions, yet impeachment was never even a possibility because his party controlled both houses of Congress. Even under the incoming Democratic Congress, impeachment is not a possibility because the new majority party has to worry about how it might affect their chances of re-election. Granted, this could change as investigations bring more presidential wrongdoing to light, but the underlying problem remains: In-house law enforcement for the political class is a political rather than a legal process, making true justice and accountability impossible.

(Yes, granted, certain crimes can trigger criminal court proceedings, but the government appears to have some discretion to keep things in-house – much like, say, the Catholic Church. And as I understand it, a sitting President’s immunity to criminal prosecution is absolute.)

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Favorites,Foley,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

17 Comments

  • 1. spocko  |  December 9th, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    This speaks to a huge structural problem with our supposedly self-policing government: That guilt or innocence is never decided by an impartial jury, but rather by congresspeople with clear-cut political affiliations and loyalties. Imagine a murder trial where the jury is composed solely of the defendant’s friends and enemies (and furthermore, that only a simple majority is needed to convict). The testimony and evidence in the case would be irrelevant – all that would matter would be whether the defendant had more friends than enemies on the jury.
    That is a great insight! Well done!
    That the ethics committee (which was designed to be a toothless as possible) was in charge shows that they didn’t want to really find out what this was about. Did something Criminal happen? Was it covered up? Do either of those crimes have consequences beyond political damage? I think so. But what do I know. I live in SF with flowers in my hair!

  • 2. Eli  |  December 9th, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks – this has been bugging me ever since Bush admitted to illegal wiretapping, and I realized that impeachment (not gonna happen) was the only recourse, even though he had just confessed to breaking the law.

  • 3. charley  |  December 9th, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    i did not have sex with that little boy,…

    no, the “grownups” have commited real crimes this time.

    what do you say about jose padilla when you considerer room 101 might be your final stand.

    frankly, i think it’s up to the dirty fuck’n hippies to take the country back. but their aren’t any dirty fuck’n hippies.

    i could probably find you a dirty fuck’n redneck. which in 2006, ironically, look exactly like dirty fuck’n hippies. but there is a difference.

  • 4. lotus  |  December 9th, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    Check out Digby today? You’ll want to . . .

  • 5. Eli  |  December 9th, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    I assume you mean the popuptonian post about Nichols’ article of impeachment? Just read it just now. I’m not sure if the popular demand has reached the critical mass to make impeachment a political positive rather than a political negative yet – I think Nichols got a little ahead of himself and glossed over the fact that that majority of people say Bush should be impeached *if* he lied us into Iraq, but we don’t know how many people think he *did* lie us into Iraq.

    This is why the investigations are necessary, to make sure that the other shoe drops, thus activating the public’s conditional demand for impeachment.

  • 6. spork_incident  |  December 9th, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    charley sez:

    i could probably find you a dirty fuck’n redneck. which in 2006, ironically, look exactly like dirty fuck’n hippies. but there is a difference.

    Less patchouli, for one. Which, come to think of it, is a mark in favor of the rednecks. :-)

    .

  • 7. spork_incident  |  December 9th, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    Anyway, on-topic: While the poputonian/Nichols groundswell could happen as a result of investigations, I’m (for now) opposed to impeachment because:

    1. Impeach Bush, get Cheney.

    2. Impeach Cheney and Bush gets to pick a new Veep who would have a big leg up in ’08.*

    3. Impeach Bush and Cheney, Pelosi becomes president; it would look like a Constitutional coup d’etat.

    *something like this scenario I almost expect absent impeachment. Sometime between the SoU speech and the end of August recess could see Cheney resign for [fill in the blank] reason.

    .

  • 8. Interrobang  |  December 9th, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    Spork, there are thirty-some-odd varieties of patchouli, some of which smell very nice (Tunisian patchouli, nice; Indian patchouli, ehhh; Arabian patchouli, yurk). If dirty f’ckin’ rednecks smell like cigarettes, beer, and engine grease, like they do around here, I’ll take the patchouli. *grin*

    I’m a non-dirty f’ckin’ punker, but I’m not picky about who I’m working with.

  • 9. lotus  |  December 9th, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    Hi, sporkie! Yep, I imagine Cheney gets taken out of the picture first and organically, as the investigations bear the fruit of public groundswell.

    Maybe there’s also the possibility of a de facto “impeachment in private” inside the House of Bush — Laura, Jebbie and Baker, say, sitting Chimpy down for a come-to-Jesus and saying, “Okay, that’s it, give us the keys now”? He’d go on seeming to be Prez, but the grownups (still toxic because Bushite, but relatively speaking, the grownups) — holding the threat of their covertly supporting actual, public impeachment over him — would actually take over The Decidering?

    Whaddya think? Possible? It wouldn’t be any more Constitutional than what happened in the House of Saud when the king went gaga — but it might end up that way. Of course, they too would have to get Cheney out of the equation first . . .

  • 10. Eli  |  December 9th, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    Most of the time I’m a non-dirty, non-fucking, non-hippie.

    *something like this scenario I almost expect absent impeachment. Sometime between the SoU speech and the end of August recess could see Cheney resign for [fill in the blank] reason.

    Someone gives Libby the okay to spill.

    Whaddya think? Possible? It wouldn’t be any more Constitutional than what happened in the House of Saud when the king went gaga

    I’m thinking the end of Woodrow Wilson’s term when he had a stroke and, IIRC, his wife was running the show. I could have that second part wrong, in which case I’ll just punt to the end of Reagan’s term…

  • 11. lotus  |  December 9th, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Yer right, Eli, President Edith Wilson was (if I remember freshman-year inculcation correctly — and it’s been a loooong time) a sorority sistah of mine.

    Meanwhile how’s all this fer some news:

    Shiites Rout Sunni Families in Mixed Area of Baghdad
    By JOHN F. BURNS
    BAGHDAD, Dec. 9 Bands of armed Shiite militiamen stormed through a neighborhood in north-central Baghdad on Saturday, driving hundreds of Sunni Arabs from their homes in what a Sunni colonel in the Iraqi Army described as one of the most flagrant episodes of sectarian warfare yet unleashed in the capital. [ … ]

    Black-Market Weapon Prices Surge in Iraq Chaos
    Sectarian warfare has sent gun prices soaring in Iraq. Army and police weapons from Iraqi state armories are, in turn, showing up on the black market. [ … ]

    Saddam’s Nephew Escapes Iraqi Prison
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Filed at 6:47 p.m. ET

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — A nephew of Saddam Hussein serving a life sentence for financing insurgents and possessing bombs escaped from prison Saturday in northern Iraq with the help of a police officer, authorities said. [ … ]

    Josh Marshall:

    Okay, these are fairly round numbers. But they give us at least a broad view of the problem. According a recent UN report, approximately 100,000 Iraqis per month are leaving the country. And an average of 2,000 per day across are streaming out into Syria (the rest appear to be leaving through Jordan, approximately 1,000 per day according to this Brookings report). Bear in mind that Iraq is a country of just under 27 million people. So in demographic terms, that amounts to something like arterial bleeding. [ … ]

  • 12. Eli  |  December 9th, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    Yer right, Eli, President Edith Wilson was (if I remember freshman-year inculcation correctly — and it’s been a loooong time) a sorority sistah of mine.

    You are remarkably well-preserved, if I may be so bold.

  • 13. lotus  |  December 9th, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    “You are remarkably well-preserved, if I may be so bold.”

    True, dat. And thankers.

    Okay, here’s one from the Sunday Times of London that completely destroys the last cred of the Head-Fake Study Group. Let’s see how long it takes the US MSM to glom on . . .

    Secret American talks with insurgents break down

    Aand while you’re there, don’t miss I should welcome the Baker report. So why do I feel sick?

  • 14. spork_incident  |  December 9th, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    Heya, lotus!

    Yeah, I’ve considered the idea that GeeDub would be (quietly) stripped of power and made a figurehead.

    Heck, Bob Gates is an evil bastard but he’s one of daddy’s boys. Assuming he stays that way it’ll be harder for LameDuck George and Cheney to launch another crazy military misadventure. Plus,there will be greater oversight coming from Congress.

    Basically, I think we’re watching the Administration disintegrate. The only question now is how ugly it’ll be.

    It could be a rough two years.

    (If George really wigs out – there are a bunch of independent reports that he’s hitting the bottle – then we could see the 25th. Amendment invoked; that is, the Cabinet removes Bush.)

    .

  • 15. Eli  |  December 9th, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Heck, Bob Gates is an evil bastard but he’s one of daddy’s boys. Assuming he stays that way it’ll be harder for LameDuck George and Cheney to launch another crazy military misadventure.

    I don’t think who the SecDef is really makes that much difference – he still has to carry out whatever cockamamie scheme The Decider orders. And if he refuses, helloooo Secretary Miers!

  • 16. Eli  |  December 9th, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    Let’s see how long it takes the US MSM to glom on . . .

    I’ll take “Never” for $800, Alex. I can’t really fault them for not reaching an accommodation with the insurgents – I don’t think that was ever a possibility; but it *does* shoot down the “We don’t negotiate with enemies” excuse for not talking to Iran and Syria (not that I think that would go much better than the talks with the insurgents).

    Aand while you’re there, don’t miss I should welcome the Baker report. So why do I feel sick?

    That’s some good stuff right there. The ISG’s only substantive contribution was to de-marginalize the view that invading Iraq was a catastrophic mistake. The plan itself is the apotheosis of muddled, committee-generated mediocrity.

  • 17. Multi Medium » Anot&hellip  |  January 31st, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    […] Looks like James Banford reads my blog, too… LAST August, a federal judge found that the president of the United States broke the law, committed a serious felony and violated the Constitution. Had the president been an ordinary citizen someone charged with bank robbery or income tax evasion the wheels of justice would have immediately begun to turn. The F.B.I. would have conducted an investigation, a United States attorneys office would have impaneled a grand jury and charges would have been brought. […]


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