One of my biggest disappointments since Obama’s election has been not just Obama’s despicable betrayal of Democratic ideals, but liberals and Democrats’ complete willingness to overlook those ideals simply because he’s nominally a member of the same team. Conservatives did the exact same thing when Bush was president, but I had really hoped progressives were better than that.
When loyalty trumps principles, those principles become meaningless. And right now neither party has any recognizable principles other than supreme executive power and blind loyalty to moneyed interests.
Glenn Greenwald and Taylor Marsh helpfully explain why it is impossible to view Obama as a Democrat in any meaningful way other than “less insane and slightly less awful than the Republican candidates”.
No, I’m not going to support Ron Paul or any of the other Republican candidates, but as Taylor Marsh puts it, “Pres. Obama has helped Democrats deliver a climate that this party has threatened since the ’70s would happen if I didn’t vote for them.”
Newt Gingrich on Sunday hammered at the nation’s judiciary system, saying that if a court’s decision was out of step with American popular opinion, it should be ignored.
There’s “no reason the American people need to tolerate a judge that out of touch with American culture,” Gingrich said on CBS’ Face the Nation, referring to a case where a judge ruled that explicit references to religion were barred from a high school graduation ceremony….
Host Bob Schieffer asked Gingrich how he planned to enforce that. Would you call in the Capitol Police to apprehend a federal judge, he asked.
“If you had to,” Gingrich said. “Or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send the U.S. Marshall in.”
But this is what makes it really genius:
Gingrich claims his tough stance is part of a key question going into the 2012 elections: “Do you want to move towards American exceptionalism, reassert the Constitution, reassert the nature of America, or do you, in fact, want to become a secular, European, sort of bureaucratic socialist society?”
So… apparently “reasserting the Constitution” means completely ignoring it when it doesn’t agree with popular opinion? Or maybe Newt believes that American popular opinion is just instinctively attuned to the Constitution at all times?
In any case, if popular opinion is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter of what should be considered constitutional, then why do we even need a judiciary at all?
Two people were killed in Cairo and Alexandria this weekend as Egyptian activists took the streets to protest the military’s attempts to maintain its grip on power. And guess how the state is justifying its deadly crackdown.
When the rich and powerful can act with impunity and can crush and exploit ordinary people any time they feel like it, that is not democracy. John Edwards may have been a philandering bastard, but I thought his Two Americas message was very important. I wish it could have survived the death of his political career.
Boy, that CREW crew just gets uglier and uglier every day. Last week this supposedly pro-transparency organization denounced WikiLeaks, comparing it unfavorably to Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel “Elsberg” (which even Ellsberg himself disagrees with), prompting Glenn Greenwald to resign from its board of directors, like so:
[T]he recent condemnation of WikiLeaks by Anne Weismann, purporting to speak on behalf of CREW, is both baffling and unacceptable to me. It is baffling because I cannot fathom how a group purportedly devoted to greater transparency in government could condemn an entity that has brought more transparency to governments and corporations around the world than any single other organization by far. And it is unacceptable to me because I believe defense of WikiLeaks has become one of the greatest and most important political causes that exists — certainly one to which I intend to devote myself — and I do not want to be affiliated with any group which works to undermine it.
I remain supportive of much of the work done by CREW and wish the organization nothing but the best.
In other words, “I can’t be party to this because it goes against everything I believe in, but CREW does good work and I wish them well,” which shows both integrity and class. By contrast, CREW’s snippy good-riddance response sounds like something one of the Palins might post on Facebook:
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan responds that Greenwald’s resignation is “quite welcome.”
“Glenn is using CREW merely as a foil for his own press ambitions rather than to make any real policy points,” she said, adding that she learned of his resignation from the press. “This is the second time recently Glenn has chosen to take his disputes with CREW public without discussing them with us.”
She accused Greenwald and other progressives of “demonizing us for disagreeing” on WikiLeaks.
“I guess the current position du jour is ‘You’re supposed to be on WikiLeaks side no matter what, and if you are varying from that, you’re terrible, you’re awful, you’re evil,'” she said.
Wow. She actually accuses Glenn Greenwald of being a self-promoting famewhore for standing up for his convictions, and then plays the victim card for being demonized for… demonizing WikiLeaks.
Yet another reason why I have nothing but contempt for Obama. At the same time they’re insisting that they simply must defend DADT against Judge Phillips’ ruling that it’s unconstitutional, here they are not appealing another ruling that, I guess, they don’t mind so much.
So when gays go to court and win, the Fierce Advocate’s administration automatically appeals. When Christian conservatives go to court and win… not so much.
And as Teddy points out, the Obama administration refuses to call DADT unconstitutional, and they won’t contemplate not enforcing it (funny how the Obama administration refuses to prosecute torture or foreclosure fraud, but they absolutely must enforce DADT because the alternative is chaos). It sure looks to me like Obama is trying to get credit for lip-service support for DADT repeal while actively working to prevent it.
O’Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons’ position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.
Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”
“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked him.
When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O’Donnell asked: “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”
Wow. She’s running for United States Senate and she has absolutely no idea what the First Amendment says. And Republican voters thought she would make a better United States Senator than Mike Castle.
My favorite part:
“You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp,” Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate….
Of course, if it had been a Tea Party rally, she probably would have gotten a standing ovation… from the same people who say they want to protect the Constitution from Obama and them damn librul Democrats.
1 commentOctober 19th, 2010 at 11:48amPosted by Eli
Speaking on a panel at the event, Schmidt argued that anonymity on the Internet is dangerous. “In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you,” he said.
Schmidt took the stance that governments may eventually put an end to anonymity. “We need a [verified] name service for people,” he said. “Governments will demand it.”
He expanded on his thoughts in a separate interview.
“[I]f you are trying to commit a terrible, evil crime, it’s not obvious that you should be able to do so with complete anonymity. There are no systems in our society which allow you to do that. Judges insist on unmasking who the perpetrator was. So absolute anonymity could lead to some very difficult decisions for our governments and our society as a whole and I don’t think we want that either.”
This sounds an awful lot like arguing that the police should have everyone’s DNA and fingerprints on file because we’re all potential criminals.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s suggestion in April 2009 that his state might consider secession drew a round of mockery nationwide, but his blustery populist rhetoric earned him serious traction among GOP primary voters in his re-election fight against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Rep. Zach Wamp, one of three candidates seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Tennessee, told Hotline OnCall that Perry had the right idea. Wamp argued that mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration’s health care bill have put secession on the table.
“I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government,” Wamp told Hotline OnCall Friday.
Wamp said he hopes voters send a message in November that the federal government should “strictly adhere” to the Constitution.
“Patriots like Rick Perry have talked about these issues because the federal government is putting us in an untenable position at the state level,” he told OnCall.
This is a very interesting definition of “patriot” that I have never seen before, but I assume that it simply means that Perry and Wamp’s loyalty is to the real America, not the United States with its oppressive Constitution and liberals and whatnot. Fine, whatever. But I sure as hell don’t want to hear any more conservatives making fun of Alec Baldwin for threatening to leave the country during the Bush administration, understood?
Spurred by an administration he believes to be guilty of numerous transgressions, self-described American patriot Kyle Mortensen, 47, is a vehement defender of ideas he seems to think are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and principles that brave men have fought and died for solely in his head.
“Our very way of life is under siege,” said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. “It’s time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are.”
Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance “since the Ten Commandments.”
“The freedoms our Founding Fathers spilled their blood for are vanishing before our eyes,” Mortensen said. “In under a year, a fascist, socialist regime has turned a proud democracy into a totalitarian state that will soon control every facet of American life.”
Along with the “Don’t tread on me” flags and the George Washington impersonators, the Constitution is ubiquitous at Tea Party events, whether it’s reproductions of the original parchment or pocket-sized copies.
Karen Cole says she carries a copy in her purse. “The Democrats are eviscerating our Constitution,” she says. Her friend Betty Anne Olsen agrees. “This current administration is trashing our Constitution; they couldn’t care less about the values. They’re breaking the laws.”
And how does she know that?
“I do not study the Constitution, no, but I’m well aware of my history,” Olsen says. “I’m well aware of how this country was founded, and I’m well aware of what has happened to it in current years.”
Tea Party members are often vague about exactly how their constitutional rights are being denied. But they all believe the federal government has expanded far beyond what the Constitution intended.
Sharron Angle attempts to “clarify” her insane statements, and only ends up making herself sound even more stupid and crazy:
In her first major interview since winning the Nevada Senate primary, Republican nominee Sharron Angle backed away from some of her previous comments, including how “people are really looking towards those Second Amendment remedies” to “take Harry Reid out.”
“I was speaking broadly, as you saw, about the Constitution, and that was the context of that rhetoric,” Angle said of her provocative comments concerning the Senate majority leader, which she made on a conservative radio show in January. “I admit that was a little strong to say, ‘take him out.’ I meant to say ‘take him out of office,’ and taking him out of office is a little different.”
Ah yes, of course, she must have been talking about forcing Reid from office at gunpoint instead of killing him. Well, that’s much better.
This is my personal favorite:
Ralston pressed Angle on her comments to the state Assembly in 1995 that the “tenet of the separation of church and state is an unconstitutional doctrine.” When Ralston insisted that the separation of church and state is indeed in the Constitution, Angle disagreed.
“No it doesn’t, Jon. No it doesn’t,” Angle said. “Actually, Thomas Jefferson has been misquoted like I’ve been misquoted out of context.”
Yes, apparently the First Amendment has been misquoted out of context. Because no one’s ever read the entire Constitution, I guess. I wonder if the Second Amendment’s been misquoted too.
This is pretty great too:
In the Ralston interview, Angle reiterated her position as an abortion opponent but cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, the famous 1973 court case that made abortion legal, as her reason why government should play a role in setting restrictions.
“I always say that I value life, my position has always been that government should stay out of this matter,” Angle said. “But in 1973, they chose to get involved in this.”
So… government should stay out of abortion… by banning it? Fascinating.
As Blue Texan says, Harry Reid is very, very lucky. Perhaps Angle’s primary victory actually reflects Republican awareness that they’re much better off with Reid as Majority Leader…
Arizona voters approved the creation of Clean Elections in 1998. Participating candidates collect a certain number of $5 donations and agree not to accept money from special-interest groups in exchange for a lump sum of public money to fund their campaigns. Candidates can get additional public funds if an opponent running as a traditional candidate spends more money than the Clean Elections candidate received initially.
Those matching funds are the focus of a lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of several Republican candidates, including state Treasurer Dean Martin, Sen. Bob Burns of Peoria, Rep. John McComish of Phoenix and Rep. Nancy McLain of Bullhead City. The traditional candidates argued that they limited their own campaign spending to avoid triggering additional public contributions to Clean Elections opponents, chilling their own freedom of speech.
U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver agreed, issuing a ruling in January that matching funds violate First Amendment freedom of speech because they cause non-participating candidates to limit their campaigning, fundraising and spending.
Clean Elections supporters appealed. In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed to allow the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to continue matching funds for participating candidates until the court could rule. That same month, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request that matching funds be halted.
So it should be okay to outspend your opponent so copiously as to drown them out, but not okay for them to receive public campaign financing so they can keep up with you? Admittedly, I am not a lawyer, but I can’t believe a judge actually ruled favorably on such a transparently bullshit argument. There is literally nothing preventing these candidates from spending more money other than the desire to prevent their opponents from receiving more money. That’s a far cry from actual suppression of free speech.
After twisting in the wind for over a year with zero support from Obama, Dawn Johnsen has finally had enough:
Dawn Johnsen, the president’s appointment to the Office of Legal Counsel whose nomination has lingered in Congressional limbo for more than a year, has officially withdrawn her candidacy for the post, according to a statement sent over from the White House.
“I am deeply honored that President Obama, the Attorney General and a strong majority of the U.S. Senate have demonstrated faith and confidence in my ability to lead the Office of Legal Counsel,” Johnsen said in a statement asking for the withdrawal. “OLC plays a critical role in upholding the rule of law and must provide advice unvarnished by politics or partisan ambition. That was my guiding principle when I had the privilege to lead OLC in a past administration. Restoring OLC to its best nonpartisan traditions was my primary objective for my anticipated service in this administration. Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten that objective and prevent OLC from functioning at full strength. I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly.”
I’m kinda reading her statement as “I will not be used as Obama’s excuse for blowing off the Constitution any more. Enough is enough.” Of course, she’s assuming that Obama won’t simply say that this proves that he can’t get anyone “controversial” confirmed, and nominate some sleazy Alberto Gonzales-style enabler.
“I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism,” Yoo observes, sipping iced tea in the faculty club lounge, a wan smile registering the discomfort of colleagues walking by en route to the bar.
He sees his neighbors as the human figures of “a natural history museum of the 1960s,” the Telegraph Avenue tableau of a graying, long-haired, pot-smoking counterculture stuck in the ideology’s half-century-old heyday.
“It’s like looking at the panoramic displays of troglodytes sitting around the campfire with their clubs. Here, it’s tie-dye and marijuana. It’s just like the 1960s, with the Vietnam War still to protest.”
Yoo seems at peace living in Berkeley, even though he disparages the community as an enclave of self-satisfied extremists intolerant of those who think outside the liberal mind-set.
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it here,” he says.
Don’t let him get away, Berkeley! He’s quite a prize. I particularly enjoy the idea of a loyal Bushie and professional torture apologist describing other people as intolerant self-satisfied extremists.
Congratulations to Craig Becker, who has finally gotten his recess appointment to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. As well as 14 other people who were similarly recess appointed today.
Not on that list?
Also per emptywheel, the White House’s “explanation” for the omission (“we didn’t appoint her because we didn’t appoint her; maybe we’ll appoint her later, it’s all the Republicans’ fault”) is not an explanation at all, especially when you consider that OLC is kind of an important office to be leaving vacant, and Johnsen has been waiting well over a year at this point:
Of the 77 people on the calendar, we are only recess appointing 15 and there are a number of qualified individuals the President has nominated that do not fall in this group. If the Republicans do not end their campaign of obstruction, the President reserves the option of exerting his authority to recess appoint qualified individuals in the future, but our hope is that we can move beyond the partisan politics that have held up the process for the last fifteen months for the good of the American people.
Labor got Becker because they were in line for a reward for backing Obama’s godawful public-optionless healthcare reform bill, but the Constitution and the Office of Legal Counsel have no constituency – or at least not one that can deliver dollars or votes, and certainly not one that Obama gives a damn about. Just like the public option.
Isn’t it amazing how Republicans and conservatives can be so fanatically gung ho about “confronting” Islamic terrorism, to the point where they’re willing to tear up the Constitution and justify any and all manner of illegal surveillance, torture and imprisonment, yet so utterly blase about right-wing vandalism, threats, and intimidation, even up to outright violence and murder? Or how they still oppose any efforts to make it harder to obtain guns? Or how they mock Democrats who suggest that it’s important to understand the source of Islamic rage, but make sure to tell us that while right-wing terrorists’ actions may be misguided, the sources of their rage are entirely legitimate?
Isn’t it amazing how the same people who were so willing to tear up the Constitution and create a police state to fight that very specific kind of terrorism are so worked up about how Obama is supposedly a fascist who is trampling the Constitution with his ruthless power grabs and healthcare bill?
Isn’t it amazing how the same people who decried Democrats’ and progressives’ lack of civility are silent about right-wing slurs and threats against Democratic officeholders? That they made a hero of the congressman who yelled “You lie!” in the middle of Obama’s State Of The Union address (and I will be shocked if the “baby killer” guy does not become one in short order as well)? That they had no problem at all with Dick Cheney telling a Democratic senator to go fuck himself (or shooting a guy in the face with a shotgun, for that matter)?
Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres have a suggestion on how to (mostly) get around the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision:
While Congress can’t issue a broad ban on all companies, it can target the very large class that does business with the federal government and ban those companies from “endorsing or opposing a candidate for public office.”
A 2008 Government Accountability Office study found that almost three-quarters of the largest 100 publicly traded firms are federal contractors. If Congress endorsed our proposal, these companies — and tens of thousands of others — would face a stark choice: They could endorse candidates or do business with the government, but they couldn’t do both. When push came to shove, it’s likely that very few would be willing to pay such a high price for their “free speech.”
The Roberts court is skeptical — to put it mildly — of campaign finance restrictions. But it is still highly unlikely that the justices would strike down a law targeting federal contractors. All nine recognize that Congress may restrict free speech when there is a significant risk of corruption. That risk is obvious when corporate speakers are simultaneously doing business with the government.
Our proposal requires only a modest extension of existing law. Federal contractors already are not allowed to “directly or indirectly . . . make any contribution of money or other things of value” to “any political party, committee, or candidate.” This provision arguably bars Big Pharma from launching a media campaign in favor of a candidate who supports its special deals, thereby “indirectly providing” the candidate something “of value.” But it doesn’t cover the case in which contractors threaten to spend millions to oppose senators and representatives who refuse their excessive demands. There is a need, then, for a new statutory initiative: The same anti-corruption rationale that may prohibit contractors from spending millions in favor of candidates requires a statutory prohibition on a negative advertising blitz.
IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but this sounds pretty reasonable to me. Of course, constitutional or not, our corporate-owned Congress still has to pass it.
1 commentJanuary 27th, 2010 at 11:26amPosted by Eli
BLOCK: You’re saying that this ruling affects the average citizen expressing his or her voice, as opposed to corporations being allowed to spend freely.
Mr. GINGRICH: Im saying that it allows you to have a middle-class candidate go out and find allies and supporters who are able to help them match the rich. And able to help them match the incumbent. Remember, incumbents run with millions of dollars in congressional staff, congressional franking, congressional travel. And they have all the advantages of being able to issue statements from their incumbent office. And the challenger – the person out there who’s the citizen who’s rebelling, who wants to change things – is at an enormous disadvantage in taking on incumbents.
This will, in fact, level the playing field and allow middle-class candidates to begin to have an opportunity to raise the resources to take on the powerful and the rich.
This Wednesday, the cable industry’s head lobbyist gave a speech claiming that Net Neutrality would violate the First Amendment. According to the NCTA’s Kyle McSlarrow, cable companies have free speech rights, while Americans (like you) don’t have rights to access or upload content on the Internet.
And Net Neutrality — a rule thatwould protect Internet users from cable and phone efforts to censor you online or to discriminate against your favorite Web sites — would abridge the speech rights of phone and cable companies.
Just repeating his argument shows how silly — and offensive — it is. McSlarrow specifically said that cable companies would “speak” by offering priority-treatment to some Web sites that pay cable companies more, at the expense of other sites that don’t pay them. Really. (It’s amazing what a 2-million-dollar lobbying salary will do to a man’s reason.)
He also said two things that directly contradicted one another (nothing new for phone and cable reps). He said (1) Net Neutrality is unnecessary because cable companies would not affect Internet traffic, let alone block it; and (2) Net Neutrality is “forced speech,” because it forces cable companies to carry speech they would, in fact, otherwise block or affect.
So… in other words, Net Neutrality would infringe on the cable companies’ First Amendment right to suppress speech. Wow.
Because I try not to read him because he makes my brain sad, sometimes I forgot just how stupid and obtuse Richard Cohen is. In yesterday’s column, he manages to come up with a very valid thesis (Obama has lost his moral clarity and betrayed the ideals he professed on the campaign trail) and then does an incredibly awful job of backing it up:
Somehow, though, that moral clarity has dissipated. The Obama who was leading a movement of professed political purity is the very same person who as president would not meet with the Dalai Lama, lest he annoy the very sensitive Chinese. He is the same man who bowed to the emperor of Japan when, in my estimation, the president of the United States should bow to no man. He is the same president who in China played the mannequin for the Chinese government, appearing at stage-managed news conferences and events — and having his remarks sometimes censored. When I saw him in that picture alone on the Great Wall, he seemed to be thinking, “What the hell am I doing here?” If so, it was a good question.
The Barack Obama of that Philadelphia speech would not have let his attorney general, Eric Holder, announce the new policy for trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Sept. 11 defendants in criminal court, as if this were a mere departmental issue and not one of momentous policy. And the Barack Obama of the speech would have enunciated a principle of law and not an ad hoc system in which some alleged terrorists are tried in civilian courts and some before military tribunals. What is the principle in that: What works, works? Try putting that one on the Liberty Bell.
Of course, there’s a difference between campaigning and governing. There is no reality to campaigning. You want Guantanamo closed, you say you’ll close it. You want to close it as president, and all of a sudden it becomes a political crisis that costs you your White House counsel, an experienced and principled man named Gregory Craig. Governing is hard.
Okay, he’s right about the Dalai Lama and Gitmo, but The Bow? (It’s a sign of respect not submission, you pinhead) Getting China on board with reducing carbon emissions? Trying KSM in a civilian court? These are supposed examples of Obama losing his moral clarity? How about his continuation of Bush’s policies of secrecy and executive power? His doubling down on Afghanistan? His unconcern for the public option? His serial betrayals of the gay community?
It’s a pretty easy case to make, and Cohen still can’t do it effectively. Why a major American newspaper would pay him to write this inept drivel, I have no idea.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a civil complaint on Monday against members of a liberal activist group who staged a news conference to falsely announce that the 3 million-member business federation had reversed its stance on climate change legislation.
As part of its hoax on Oct. 19, Yes Men announced at the National Press Club that the chamber would stop lobbying against the Senate’s 800-page climate bill. Reuters moved a story based on the false press release, and both CNBC and Fox Business Network reported it – with the anchors correcting themselves mid-story upon learning it was false.
I know, the lawsuit is more about trademark violation, but I think it’s hilarious and a little surreal that the Chamber is suing the Yes Men for trying to make them look like they weren’t complete amoral assholes for one day.
Nearly 10 years had passed since a college student was raped on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and with no known suspect in the 1993 case, the police were not close to an arrest. But what they did have was nearly as critical: the rapist’s DNA profile.
Prosecutors in Manhattan — aware that the legal clock for bringing a case was running out — devised the novel strategy of indicting the rapist’s DNA. Four years later, the sample was connected to a man, Victor Rondon; he was eventually convicted and sentenced to 44 to 107 years in prison.
While there have been many celebrated cases in which DNA evidence has been used to overturn wrongful convictions, often many years after the trial, such evidence has become essential in solving cold cases.
In New York City, prosecutors have secured 117 indictments of DNA samples in rape cases, linked 18 of those profiles to specific people, and obtained 13 convictions, either through trials or negotiated pleas. Five cases are pending.
“What we said was, ‘There is no reason for people to get away with rape because of the statute of limitations,’ ” said John Feinblatt, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s criminal justice coordinator. “They shouldn’t be able to hide behind it; they shouldn’t be able to race for time and get over the finish line and leave a victim without a case being solved.”
Sounds good to me. I’m not a big fan of the statute of limitations concept – if there are extenuating circumstances like hazy witness memory or the suspect’s subsequent upstandingness, then bring them up during trial.
First, let me stipulate that I agree on the importance of accountability for illegal acts and for serious breaches of trust by government officials — even at the highest levels. I had no problem with the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, and I called for Bill Clinton to resign when he lied to his Cabinet colleagues and to the country during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
I am not persuaded by former vice president Dick Cheney’s argument that this is simply political revenge by the now-dominant Democrats against their Republican predecessors. For all the previously stated reasons, there is ample justification for seeking answers apart from any partisan motive.
Nonetheless, I think it is a matter of regret that Holder asked prosecutor John H. Durham to review the cases of the agents accused of abusive tactics toward some captives.
I realize this is a preliminary investigation, not a decision to prosecute anyone. And if it were to stop at that point, no great harm would have been done. But it is the first step on a legal trail that could lead to trials — and that is what gives me pause.
Cheney is not wrong when he asserts that it is a dangerous precedent when a change in power in Washington leads a successor government not just to change the policies of its predecessors but to invoke the criminal justice system against them.
Not investigating or prosecuting war crimes is kind of a dangerous precedent, too…
Looming beyond the publicized cases of these relatively low-level operatives is the fundamental accountability question: What about those who approved of their actions? If accountability is the standard, then it should apply to the policymakers and not just to the underlings. Ultimately, do we want to see Cheney, who backed these actions and still does, standing in the dock?
In times like these, the understandable desire to enforce individual accountability must be weighed against the consequences. This country is facing so many huge challenges at home and abroad that the president cannot afford to be drawn into what would undoubtedly be a major, bitter partisan battle over prosecution of Bush-era officials. The cost to the country would simply be too great.
Accountability is just too hard and it’ll make the Republicans upset, so why bother. Now, a witch hunt against a Democratic president for getting a blow job, that’s okay.
When President Ford pardoned Nixon in 1974, I wrote one of the few columns endorsing his decision, which was made on the basis that it was more important for America to focus on the task of changing the way it would be governed and addressing the current problems. It took a full generation for the decision to be recognized by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and others as the act of courage that it had been.
Awesome. Can you imagine what kind of mess this country would be in if Nixon had been held accountable instead of getting off scot free and allowed to rehabilitate his image as a statesman? Why, it might even have discredited anyone who worked in his administration, and I don’t know if our country could afford such a terrible loss.
Former Vice President Cheney is essentially saying that any acts performed by members of the CIA – no matter how illegal or abhorrent – are ok, and must never be the subject of a criminal investigation. No matter what anyone in the CIA may do, it need not be subject to the law. This is outrageous, and violates just about every traditional American concept of liberty and justice.
It is remarkable that this even needed to be said. And depressing that it is seen as some kind of leftist fringe position.