Archive for the ‘Corruption’ Category
I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. - Thomas Jefferson
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
- Abraham Lincoln
Big business is not dangerous because it is big, but because its bigness is an unwholesome inflation created by privileges and exemptions which it ought not to enjoy.
- Woodrow Wilson
The citizens of the United States must control the mighty commercial forces which they themselves called into being.
- Theodore Roosevelt
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
- Dwight Eisenhower
I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves - and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.
- Thomas Jefferson
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Which of the following candidates for President of the United States best reflects values expressed above?
a) John McCain
b) Hillary Clinton
c) Barack Obama
d) Ralph Nader
d) Ralph Nader
As the Democrats bicker over the meaning of bitterness, Ralph Nader is traveling to all 50 states to challenge head-on the abusive, corrupting, corrosive corporate power that is undermining our democracy.
In this momentous election year, the Nader/Gonzalez campaign has launched an historic challenge to the corporate two-party duopoly.
The first phase is well under way - getting Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in states across the country.
Today, Ralph travels to the Land of Lincoln - Illinois.
We need your help now to fuel our ballot access campaign in Illinois.
Vote now for Ralph Nader by giving as generously as you can to this effort to challenge corporate power and the two-party duopoly.
If ever there was a Democrat who should quit his party, it’s my congressman, John Larson, of Connecticut. He made an appearance in West Hartford yesterday before an audience of about 35, in which he invoked the wisdom of 20th Century statesman George Kennan to lament his subordination to the moral ambiguities of leadership. Questions of accountability dominated the discussion. Accountability for the breakdown of the economy. Accountability for the state of foreign relations. Accountability for war. Accountability for crime.
Larson began with a ten-minute speech. First came a discussion of the economic “stimulus” that the leaders are currently prescribing. Conceding that it will probably be ineffective, he said it was a starting point. He seems to realize (but didn’t say) that a cash infusion from a government that’s already deeply in debt can bring only temporary relief and will probably be injurious over the long term. The “stimulus” won’t reach the neediest of the needy and won’t cover more than a single payment on a delinquent mortgage. Larson tried to hide his feeling of powerlessness over the situation, but he was unsuccessful, at least from where I sat.
There was some discussion in the speech of the war and Larson’s opposition to it, but no detailed discussion of the plight of the soldiers and their families. He expressed the popular view that resources being spent on war could more profitably be applied to the public infrastructure–roads, bridges, schools–now in a state of abject disrepair. He spoke briefly about accountability and how many hearings were being held in the various committees, but he couldn’t bring himself to utter the word “impeachment.”
I looked at the clock and glanced around the room when the microphone got passed to the audience, and there was more than an hour and half, with only a fourth of the chairs occupied. I’d definitely get to ask a question and maybe two. Yeah, right.
Either by force of habit or as a means of limiting discussion of controversial topics, Larson never gives an answer less than five minutes long, and most are much longer. He never answers directly, but, schoolteacher that he is, brings in quotes and anecdotes, along with digressions and personal observations, sometimes leaving the interlocuter wondering whether he actually heard the question.
The first question from the audience, on why Larson should support impeachment as a means of ending the war, elicited a ten-minute reply. To make a long story short, the member is waiting for guidance from on high. Committees are engaged, including John Conyers’ judiciary committee, which is where impeachment must start, and Conyers, Larson, Pelosi, and the rest don’t want to get tripped up. Larson admits that he and Conyers are fearful of the political consequences if they confront Bush and lose, and so they’re proceeding slowly.
The subject turned repeatedly from impeachment, when audience members spoke about public access TV, the death of Suharto, the strain on the armed forces, and Bush’s notorious signing statements, but it kept coming back to the crimes of Bush and Cheney. One persistent questioner used the word “spineless” to describe Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, and Larson hollered at her. He apologized later, but he brooks no criticism of his long-time ally.
He had to take some flak for his endorsement of Barack Obama, including barbs from a constituent who doesn’t believe Obama can win. Larson polled the audience, and 80 percent said they were voting for Obama. He mentioned, as a reason for his endorsement, Obama’s willingness to use the armed forces as tool of diplomacy, giving the audience something to think about, but in almost the same breath, he expressed approval of the British approach to military affairs, in which the broad international consequences of various strategies are taken into account.
Larson strikes me as a man with an assigned place in a heirarchy, and he’s limited by it, rather than empowered. He’s limited in what he can advocate and in what he can say. He knows but can’t say aloud that the president and vice president are thugs. He’s plagued by moral ambiguities, but he can’t discuss them in detail. When asked whether he believes it was a crime to send soldiers into combat on a pretext, he couldn’t say. His audience didn’t see any moral ambiguity here–war based on lies is murder–but John Larson is reserving judgment until the heirarchy moves. He’s willing to call Iraq the greatest foreign policy blunder in our history, but he won’t say it’s criminal. Like a cop in a corrupt town, he’s not going to accuse well-placed wrongdoers unless he’s sure he can make something stick. It’s not a bold or principled approach to law enforcement, but there’s ample precedent for it. There was a time when Democrats could point to principle as a unifying force, but that time is long past, and the person who lives inside Congressman John Larson is paying a high price for the transformation.
We have been told repeatedly by the embedded mass media that the approval of Michael Mukasey as attorney general is “virtually assured,” “a substantial certainty,” or otherwise in the bag. The reporters never tell you by what means they know this. They happen to be the same reporters who thought a war in Iraq would be a cakewalk and who assured New Orleans that the city had dodged a bullet, and so I hope I’ll be forgiven for demanding some provenance.
I don’t believe that the reporters have polled senators, and so I can only conclude that their pronouncements of certainty are passed on second-hand from unnamed people in the know. My experience with people in the know is that their anonymous reports are not to be trusted. They leak information to manipulate public opinion, not to inform it. Reporters who pass on the morsels tossed out by professional gossip-mongers are mere tools.
You have to wonder about the ethics of the folks who do this sort of reporting. They know that prediction and prognostication are not fact. They know that “analysis” of the future is so much bunk. Over at National Public Radio, where expressions of certainty about events that haven’t happened yet are the regular fare, Hillary has the nomination nailed down, America and Israel will prevail in the world (eventually), and everything will be OK. And that’s the news for today, and now lets get down to some quirky observations on pet ownership, sports, and hip-hop. Nobody seems to be embarassed about all this, but everyone must be. As for important events that have happened and are happening: Don’t ask. Don’t tell.
Is it madness to think that somebody might want to manipulate public opinion on the appointment of this particular nominee? His own testimony betrays him as an in-your-face fascist, an outlaw of the first water. Could Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate, which must approve Mukasey) really be poised to approve him? If so, which Democrats, other than the Judeo-fascists who have so far apologized for him? Presumably, the reporters know, but they won’t tell.
I don’t believe they know anything of the kind. I think the reporters are willing dupes in a highly organized campaign to manipulate public opinion. This attorney general must be confirmed in order to guarantee the tenure of the criminally culpable parties that populate our government at this nadir of American history, when free citizens wage war for gain, torture prisoners, and abandon the rule of law. Our leaders are ruthless and dangerous racketeers, they occupy positions in every branch of government at every level, and they have the power to end the career of anybody, including journalists, teachers, law enforcement officers, bureaucrats, elected officials, you, me and anybody else that would dare to stand in the way.
I don’t believe Mukasey’s confirmation is assured. In fact, I can’t believe that 50 senators will dare to allow another criminal to run the Justice Department. Maybe NPR can make it happen if they all wish hard enough and keep hiding facts from the public, but Mukasey belongs in a secure facility, not a government law office, and the Senate can’t fail to notice that. If the members confirm him, they must be reckoned, even at NPR, as the most corrupt senate since the fall of Rome.
We waited all day for this question: “Judge Mukasey, there’s every reason to believe the last attorney general and the president have violated federal laws, precipitating a crisis of confidence in the Constitution of the United States and the rule of law itself. What are you going to do about that?”
Turned out the fix was in. The senators of the judiciary committee had met with the worthy judge in private and had all their fondest hopes fulfilled and all their worst fears dispelled. He must have assured them he would be a modest caretaker for the remainder of the Bush term. On the record, he was cautioned in the most respectful terms to be independent and not to repeat the missteps of his predecessor. There was a lot of hoping among Democrats on the committee. Mukasey promised nothing in the way of justice.
Patrick Leahy recited with due gravity a litany of criminal offenses committed by employees of the justice department and higher levels of the executive branch, urging the nominee and all of us to “acknowledge wrongdoing.” Leahy made generous reference to various hearings on Iraq, U.S. Attorneys, Blackwater, and other instances of executive malfeasance, but it was a modest call for reform and Leahy demanded no accounting. The ranking member Arlen Spector expressed mild dissatisfaction over abuses of executive authority that the senator considers “necessary because we are at war.”
These men should not need to be reminded that when government attorneys misbehave, that’s a crime. The attorney general and his employees hold the scales of justice in hand. When they are corrupted, a crime is committed against the USA.
You would think, at a time when justice department employees and other executive officials have committed notorious abuses of authority that amount to racketeering, that a hearing on the confirmation of an attorney general would make reference to the enforcement of the criminal laws the leaders violated. You would be wrong. Commandeering the Department of Justice for political ends is a crime, and Leahy accused somebody of doing it, but he didn’t call for a criminal accounting. Is it now not politically correct to prosecute high-ranking officials or even mention their criminal culpability, or “wrongdoing,” as Leahy would toothlessly have it?
Introducing the nominee, Senator Lieberman offered a fond reminiscence of his and Mukasey’s days together at Yale Law School, and Senator Schumer, who talked to some mutual friends from the ruling class, was confident of the nominee’s probity and suitability. I can almost hear the buzz in the Oval Office after somebody said, “Let’s get a Jew! With a Jew you get Spector, Schumer, Lieberman, like half the Democrats on the committee.” Make it a New York right-winger. Win-win, as they say.
The members of the committee took up most of their time on this first day of questioning to air select grievances against the Justice Department or get commitments of support for favored programs. They didn’t put many substantive questions to the nominee. Typically, the senator says what he expects of an attorney general and expresses a hope that Mukasey will live up to expecations. The nominee counters with what he hopes he can, indeed, do. His were not the answers of a lawyer. Law is. The role of the attorney general is to bring the rule of law to the executive, restraining it whenever necessary. We don’t hope we can do it. We do it.
To the rare substantive questions that were put to the nominee, the answers he gave were the answers you would expect from a mob lawyer. He never made a pronouncement of loyalty to the rule of law that didn’t have an escape clause. “To the extent possible” and “as far as I am able” are lethal qualifiers in the parlance of organized crime, which this is. Mukasey’s tone and pace were trance-inducers, and the content of his answers was pure pablum. Nobody in America, not any senator and not any citizen, heard the latter part of any of his answers.
Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat, asked Mukasey directly whether the US government should close the prison at Guantanamo. He seemed content with the response that the attorney general will get the best advice available and act on that. Kohl allowed Mukasey to bloviate on what the feds can do to stem gang violence and on the advantages of having more cops on the street, especially under programs that benefit Kohl’s loyal patrons. Kohl and the other senators were deferential at a time when deference is altogether inappropriate.
Accountability, in the committee’s view, will take the form of “restructuring” and “assembling a top-flight staff.” The new regime will emphasize merit hiring, and they will no longer be taking calls from politicians. Never mind that the calls already received from politicians were felonies, and the new attorney general would be the guy charged with the prosecution of people like Rove and Domenici, to name just two callers. The senators couldn’t even name two. Among the bunch of them, they couldn’t think of two public officials who committed crimes and aren’t being prosecuted for them, or even one. I can name 50.
“They’re new! They’re novel!” That was Lindsay Graham’s triumphal declaration in reference to legal theories rationalizing imprisonment without trial and torture as a means of interrogation. Truer words were never spoken. Lawyers used to employ precedent, but torture and denial of legal process are without precedent, and the legal theories advanced to promote these practices are new, novel, and phony. As Lindsay Graham knows. He’s a lawyer and he knows he’s not allowed to endorse legal tripe of this sort, and so he challenged the nominee. He wanted to know whether it wasn’t better, on balance, to afford prisoners the benefits of notice and an opportunity to be heard. Graham thought he could get Mukasey to assent to this modest commitment to fundamental human rights.
Forget about it. Mukasey vowed to respect fundamental human rights but only if it doesn’t impede the gathering of intelligence. In response to Graham’s question, the nominee acknowledged being “uncomfortable” with what used to be called water torture. He didn’t give a suitable answer to any of Graham’s questions. Graham’s conclusion: “I have every confidence you will do a good job.” Senator Graham could have asked whether the government lawyers who advanced legal theories rationalizing torture and imprisonment without trial should be disbarred, but he didn’t. None of the senators did.
As nearly as I could discern, the proceedings were to an empty chamber, at least on the committee’s side of the table. C-SPAN tried not to let on, but every so often that naughty cameraman, the one that picks out the best-looking people in every room and puts them on just for art’s sake, that guy shot the empty row of seats. It was Leahy along with whoever was at bat and whoever was on deck.
Evident from the nominee’s evasions was a guarantee that he will be able to lend his imprimatur to just about any executive usurpation. Like most of the villains who would be a party to such corruption, he’s a vainglorious twit who has been seduced to a position of power beyond his mother’s wildest dreams. This is not his fault. This is our fault. We allow totalitarians like this nominee and the senators who pet him to prosper.
This confirmation process looks like a sham, a deal that was concluded in private. The guy’s a totalitarian, and the senators know it. They are going to give him the job not in spite of his fascist tendencies but because of them. They have his pledge to preserve the imperial courts for the Democrats, if they can win them. The “unitary executive,” which has no existence in traditional legal doctrine, is the main point of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, and this attorney general, who hopes to uphold the Constitution and may choose to heed the rule of law if it doesn’t get in the way of intelligence gathering, is just the man to make it happen.