Sunday, July 08, 2007

Criminals and the men who protect them

Patty here…

I'm posting early this week because I'll be on the road tomorrow.

Unless you live under a rock you know George Bush's presidency hasn't been smooth sailing lately.

He recently wiped out the Scooter Libby prison sentence handed down in the CIA leak case. Libby has paid the fine imposed but in case you’re worried about him, his supporters have raised $5 million for his legal defense fund. The fine was only $250,000. That leaves a few bucks for a nice vacation before he starts his new job as a policy wonk in a conservative think-tank. His supporters say the fine money came from his “personal savings.” Seriously, do they think we just fell off a turnip truck? Bush says he intended for Libby to serve probation, but the judge in the case isn’t sure if probation can be imposed when the convicted criminal has served no time in jail. You know what’s coming next. Right?

I don’t usually talk about politics. I leave that to Our J and Paulie. I’m a registered independent who votes for the candidate who I feel might do some good before he or she becomes corrupted by money and power. But Bush’s handling of the Libby affair compels me to speak, because his actions show clear evidence that the United States is in danger of losing its national identity. Once we were a nation of individuals with a moral compass set to true north. Now too many of us have become apologists for bad behavior, blindly following party officials who are morally bankrupt and legally corrupt.

More troubling, too many of us have become complacent. True, the outrage is growing louder, but there are still too many who read about the Bush regime’s legal machinations to justify torture. (Ho hum) They read about illegal wiretaps of U.S. citizens when there was a system in place to do so legally. (Snore) They read about the firing of U.S. attorneys for not doing the party’s business. (Yawn) They read that Bush issues “signing statements” giving himself permission to ignore the laws he’s enacting for the rest of us. (ZZZZ) They read that Cheney has created a new branch of government where he is immune from subpoenas or accountability (This is where they put down the paper and take a nap).

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of talk about Bush’s legacy and how he should be worried about it. Why? He’s drunk with power and cocksure he can crush naysayers and recreate reality by spinning the messy details. And if he’s right, fellow citizens, there’s no going back for any of us.

Some fifty years ago, Friedrich Gustav Martin Niemöller talked about complacency in Nazi Germany. His words still penetrate the foul air.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

"Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

—British historian Lord Acton


  1. It's all about Paris Hilton, Patty. Don't you know anything?


    I raved about Keith Olbermann's latest special comment following the Libby SNAFU. It was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately I'm not sure the people who can do the most about it will see it. A commenter on another blog that raved about it told us to forward the link to our representatives. I probably will, though both of our senators are Republicans who voted for the war. Sigh...

  2. Thank you, Patty, for this post. You have spoken eloquently, with a calm passion and pulled no punches.

    In my last post I mentioned a session at the Mystery Writers Conference on the subject of grief. It was interesting that the conversation encompassed the collective grief of the American people, that there seems to be no moral compass, that the America we hold dear and that the world once looked up to, has been shamed beyond measure. In the act of remaining voiceless, we are complicit. A government should take note of the people, should be in awe of the power of the people, and should listen to us. We should believe in our power, not go to sleep because we think no one is listening. That wail of loss should break eardrums in Washington.

  3. Amen, Patty.

    We have been talking about complacency all week. That scares me almost as much as this administrations complete disdain for the Rule of Law.

    So I've signed a petition and forwarded it to my Senators and Reps, demanding that they commence impeachment proceedings against Cheney.

    As I said when I forwarded it to a bunch of friends, and to echo your message: It's time

  4. I see it as a breakdown in the opposition. THEY've got Nixon back in power, and WE run some low-rent Neville Chamberlain type against him, twice. The times call for a new Woodward and Bernstein, we cough up Jayson Blair and Judith Miller.

    Even when they're articulate, the people in the center and on the left with access to any sizeable audience/platform come off as shrill, smug, pampered and out of touch.

    Politics may be reduced to soundbitess and propaganda, but they have to be GOOD soundbites and propaganda to gain access to power. The left has had its head up its butt--tepid, timid, and useless.

    How could Ralph Nader have taken such a slice of the vote, otherwise? Nobody serious had half a clue how to get people fired up, so he filled the vacuum. It's nauseating. Grotesque.

    I mean, for chrissake, we've just been utterly hosed as a nation by a man named SCOOTER.

    To paraphrase the old Chuck Colson plaque in the White House, "it takes balls to capture hearts and minds."

    Maybe it's time for ovaries.

    If you want to end the war and stuff, you gotta sing loud.

  5. We have a media that has completely lost its way. I think part of it is by design. There are, I think, six corporations who own 90% of the media outlets and they have insisted that the news divisions turn a profit.

    That means staff were cut and items that attracted attention like celebrity news and other shiny objects win over serious discussions of complicated issues.

    It's so much cheaper to cover events than it is ideas.

    Even our "hard-hitting" news programs are cowed by the right. Look at the editorial page of the NY Times and Washington Post. The Post's Fred Hiatt has turned its page into a megaphone for the administration with a few Colmes-like peeps from clueless dinosaurs like Richard Cohen, a man who expressed surprise that there were no WMDs because all the people he goes out to dinner with thought for sure there would be.

    And no, I'm not making that up.

    Over at the Times they have Tom Friedman who was a booster of the invasion and David Brooks who can't find a thing he can't spin to illuminate the moral strength of the GOP.

    With this kind of news gathering in the liberal media, it's no wonder we're complacent.

    There was a time when the outting of a CIA agent during a war would be considered treason. Now it's parsed and passed off as partisan politics.

    There is no sense of shame left in this country. None. I doubt if anyone at any time in this White House has ever said, "Yes, we could do that, but it would be wrong."

  6. David and Cornelia put it much better than I ever could.

    The only thing I can add is that we're getting what we don't vote for. We haven't had higher than a 55% turnout of eligible voters in any of the last four presidential elections. Unless and until we can pry our butts out of our Barcaloungers and get to the polls, or even sign up for absentee ballots for crying out loud, we're going to be living in a kakistocracy (my new favorite word, meaning "government by the least qualified or most unprincipled").

  7. I've watched the news every night for the last four years muttering, "What's it going to take? Where are the pitchforks and torches on the White House lawn? What's it going to take?"

    We will get to that point. I don't know what the tipping point will be -- maybe the reinstitution of a draft? -- but we'll get there.

    I have faith in us.

  8. kakistocracy?

    Rae, that is now my favorite description of our current governance.

    I may have to alert others to its timely existence. (with credit to you, of course)

    Thank you so much.

  9. Thanks to all of you for your well-reasoned and beautifully stated comments. Perhaps it's time for us to storm the Bastille. Perhaps Olbermann will lead the charge. If not, surely it should be Dave Barry.

  10. David,

    Great word, isn't it? I got it from Merriam-Webster - they do an email "word of the day" thing that you can subscribe to. I think someone in over there is just a bit subversive ;-) because the daily word often has relevance to whatever political brouhaha is in the headlines. They used kakistocracy several years ago.....

  11. Patty's articulate post and the intelligent, thoughtful responses make me wonder: how did George W. Bush ever get elected?

    Oh, wait.

    He didn't!

    These are sad times for the democracy. Congress can be bought and sold; the President is clueless, the Vice President insane; the Supreme Court has turned the clock backward.

    A majority of Americans believe that angels walk the earth but couldn't find France on a map.

    I search for a glimmer of hope but see only a future more horrible than the past, more bleak than the present.

  12. But as I recently told Cornelia. "Things will get better and then we'll all go out to the House of Pancakes."

  13. Nixon actually had an attorney who advised him that he could actually pardon himself. Obviously, he decided it would be better to have his comrade, Ford, do that for him.

    I've never seen Scooter, or anyone in the "emperor's" cadre,speak so politely......"Uh, pardon me.........pardon me......"

    There are other ramifications in terms of him commuting Scooter's sentence as opposed to pardoning every Zippy,Skipper,Goober,and Pinky who gets a federal sentence will say, guys I'd like the same sentence ol' Scooter got.....The prez sez "you can't devastate a man's family when he can't even practice law anymore.....[although we're trying to get around that pesky disbarment for ethics violations thingy]". "Hey, I too, just like the Scooter, have SUFFERED enough....."

    I'm changing my name to Vespa, so I can skirt and scoot around the law.
    Where's Sacco and Vanzetti when ya need 'em? "A"?


  14. Jon Vespa. Hmmm. It has a nice ring to it. Perhaps Olbermann will make you head of the Justice Department.

  15. Good post Patty.

    I mention Olbermann in my post on Thursday but not in a particularly good way. Not really bad either.

    I'm sick of most of the talking heads.

    I'm sick of most of the heads talking.

    I can make no comment on my tremendous dissappointment in Governemnt administration.


  16. Jim,

    I have to say I share your dismay at the talking heads and I wonder if in this nation of 260 million (?) there is this finite pool of pundits, so limited in number that they keep recycling the same ones through different shows as if a new venue will make Nancy Grace less crazy or Joe Scarborough more entertaining.

    Really, is shuffling Tucker Carlson around CNN and MSNBC the absolute best we can do?

    It's enough to make Jesus drink himself to sleep.

  17. David and Jim, I agree with you about talking heads. The only requirement seems to be that they're photogenic and can curl their lips in a sneer. Nancy Grace? Puh-leeze. I used to watch PBS but even they are beholding to big corporate interests. No one does what's good for the country anymore. It just doesn't pay.

  18. Bush is a worthless pile of shit. Dick Cheney is a bigger pile of shit. My highlight of the day was on CNN watching Michael Moore tear Wolf Blitzer a new asshole for going along with the Bush regime, and it's lies, and lying to the American public. Of course, the last scraping, miserable supporters of these scrotums at 1600 Penn Ave, all get their news from Faux News.

    I think things are starting to turn, a small revolution? We can hope. And it will be televised.

    We're part of it. Be proud we've been right all along.

  19. Go, Bob! Tell it like it is.

  20. How does it go? "I'm as angry as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!!"

    I guess it's only a matter of time before someone reaches their breaking point with this arrogant, self-agrandizing administration and it's idiot of a leader. He thinks it's a brilliant thing that someone holds three jobs to make ends meet. Moron!!

    Well said, Patty. :-D


  21. Marianne, great to hear from you. I miss you when you go away.