Sunday, January 21, 2007


Paul Krugman (“Surging and Purging”, comments incisively on the recent purge of corruption-probing U.S. attorneys, being replaced with Bushista reliables who will no doubt do their bit to prevent further probes of the metastasized corruption conducted with Gilded-Age voracity during the past 12 years, and especially during the well-manured growing season that has been the reign of the present Administration. Bush has barricaded himself into the bank, and is now doing everything possible to seal himself off and stave off the Nemesis that has been slouching toward him and his Gang all along.

The mainstream media may very well try to kill two birds with one stone and treat this as a melodrama, reaping profits while trying to recoup their lost credibility as resolute and resourceful seekers of Truth and reporters of the same. This melodrama approach will play well with citizens too used to spectating, and there are too many of Us in that category. Many are distracted by their own straitening circumstances, many more are debauched by the assorted distractions that have gripped public attention for so many years, and far too many are too discouraged – in the manner of Soviet citizens – to speak their mind freely.

But Bush’s nemesis is not happening ‘out there’ or simply ‘to him’. If he has treacherously or witlessly run the Ship into dangerous shoal waters, then We are all involved. It is Our Republic, after all.

If he can no longer rely on Congress to cover him, as it has done with such infamous servility up to the very last moment of the Republican Ascendancy, then he will try to barricade himself in the Executive Branch and hope that he can stave off Consequences until … well, until the clock runs out and he leaves office. This, assuming he does not try to force a victory with even more drunken tosses of the dice of War, which will either yield such a victory (impossible), or distract Us from his treachery by creating far more urgent emergencies and simultaneously give him the ‘grounds’ to use the paramilitary powers of Commander-in-Chief-in-‘wartime’ to control the very machinery of law and justice that threatens to engulf him and his whole Gang.

Somehow during the time we have been distracted by Emergencies domestic and foreign since the fall of the USSR, the Chinese have developed the ability to shoot down satellites, and now deem the time auspicious to let everybody know it. Almost all of our advanced military capability relies upon satellites, and it’s anybody’s guess if our officers and troops are capable of finding their way without a GPS gizmo to tell them just where on the planet they are. Some of our most advanced aircraft can only fly at all precisely because complex and powerful onboard computers can sustain the vasty computations necessary to keep their otherwise non-aerodynamic shapes airborne. The Gang, meanwhile, is talking about trying to knock over Iran, next door to Iraq – the job that they’ve bungled so badly already. In a less telegenic area of concern, the Chinese are just about our largest creditor.

But the recent comment of Alberto Gonzales, Attorney-General, is a firebell in the night ( Of all the wolves we now have by the ears, our own gummint – in its Executive as presently constituted – still poses the most fundamental threat. Gonzales opines to a Senate committee that the right of Habeas Corpus is not actually guaranteed in the Constitution. It is – admittedly – menlationed ‘negatively’, i.e. that ‘it’ can’t be suspended except in very particular and pressing circumstances. This, according to Lawyer Gonzales, does not mean that the right of Habeas is positively guaranteed to every U.S. citizen.

Citizens of a certain age might remember when such a comment by an apparatchik of the Executive would draw a witheringly incisive retort from a white-maned Senator who was serving the Republic while the apparatchik was still filling his diapers. But the People can look to no such Senator now. The Democrats have spent too much time pandering to the Advocacies and cannot now extract themselves from those mushy lowlands and climb back up to solid high ground even if they wanted to. The Republicans are now effectively swamp-creatures, so compromised by their collaboration with the Twelve Years that they dassn’t make any incisive retort even if they could think of one.

Arlen Specter snorted that General Alberto’s assertion may violate common sense, but Specter has been actively complicit in far too much Bushista skullduggery to claim Sam Ervin’s mantle now. And for all we know Specter is trying to pull a McCain-Graham-Warner, speaking out against dangerous dreck and then quickly voting for it as soon as the camera crews have left. One thinks of Franz von Papen, baron, who offered a certain former Austrian corporal the Chancellorship of Germany because, the baron burbled, “we are hiring him”. Evil – the Bible tells us so – has a way of turning on its would-be masters.

Nor can we forget that the Southron experience with slavery – and we cannot allow ourselves to think that those centuries’ of experience disappeared overnight – resulted into a sorta kinda preference for repression. As George Fitzhugh, a Virginia lawyer of the Civil War era, put it (and the capitals are his): “THERE IS TOO MUCH OF LAW AND TOO LITTLE OF GOVERNMENT IN THIS WORLD.” The Southron mind, like the government mind and the military mind and the JAG mind, doesn’t really change much over time. His comment, especially as an American and trained in the Law, offers sobering opportunity for reflection. Demands such reflection, really. From all of Us.

But as riveting as these proceedings may be, We are not expected to recall that our own gummint has tried to make this type of argument before. In “Reid v. Covert”, a Supreme Court case of 1957, the gummint argued that trial before an independent judge and a jury of one’s peers is not a fundamental right of American citizens. The redoubtable Hugo Black squashed that nasty bug, but we do well to remember that gummints seek to expand against the interests of their own citizens as a matter of life itself: it’s what they do. If anybody wants to think like the Framers and the Founders, this is as good a place to start as any. And it’s a heckuvva lot better than lighting incense to the shade of Stonewall Jackson.

Nor is it irrelevant to our present concerns to note that “Reid” was a military justice case. If gummints ceaselessly seek to expand, militaries ceaselessly seek to win. As Queen Victoria observed with some perplexity: “My generals would fortify the moon if they could.” For the JAGs, indeed, the only way to be ‘warriors’ and get to wear a varsity-letter jacket is to make ‘defendants’ their ‘enemy’, which from a law-school point of view is (or was) kinda icky. But ‘the next logical step’, of course, is to assure your supply of defendants by widening your writ, expanding it to as many of the citizenry as possible; assuring one’s lines of supply is a cardinal military activity – and the JAGs, after all, are military officers. And they intend to stay that way. So We do well to beware of JAGs bearing gifts.

As has been opined elsewhere on this site, Bush has not done all that he’s done by perverting the fundamental principles of military justice, but rather by ham-handedly applying them in wider theater of operations. The only good news for Us is that in doing so he’s exposed the whole racket to the possibility of scrutiny by an unamused citizenry. By all means, let Us be unamused. Queen Victoria spent a great deal of her time not-being amused, and she didn’t do a bad job, all things considered. A tad more o f her spirit, and a tad less dewy-eyed incantation before the tomb of Churchill or the flower-piles of Di might not be such a bad thing.

And closer to home, we might also recall the incisive remark made by Emiliano Zapata: The Strong Man makes a weak people. He had a grasp on the task of Peopling that has slipped from consciousness in this country.

It may seem strange that We would be seeking enlightenment from a Mexican revolutionary and a (the, actually) Victorian woman. But these be challenging times and Wisdom must be sought wherever she might be found. And found soon.

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Blogger Davidco said...

Famous Zapatista quote:"The moment you leave, your enemies will come." This perhaps pre-figuring the cooptation of his name by Bush the Elder in the formation of the Zapata Petroleum Company (see Wikipedia) after seeing the movie Viva Zapata.

In an ironic inversion of the abovementioned purge of the effective federal prosecutors, Bush acolyte Harriet Myers was let go as the Preznit's personal attorney as Bush "lawyers-up" with effective counsel in preparation for the blizzard of subpoenas probing his incompetence that will hopefully issue from many and varied Congressional committees.

3:29 AM  

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