thinking inside the box

It is not often that politicians are candid about their motivations and intentions. Yet there it was with John Conyers writing recently in the Washington Post regarding the potential for impeachment proceedings should the reigns of power change hands in the next election:

It was House Republicans who took power in 1995 with immediate plans to undermine President Bill Clinton by any means necessary, and they did so in the most autocratic, partisan and destructive ways imaginable. If there is any lesson from those “revolutionaries,” it is that partisan vendettas ultimately provoke a public backlash and are never viewed as legitimate.

It was close to complete candor, but let me translate this into plain English for you: “We would impeach the guy faster than a Congresscritter accepts a bribe, but we are afraid of losing our seats from voter backlash”.

Honest yes, but utterly contemptible.

Conyers himself described the charges of malfeasance against the administration as, “grave, serious, well known, and based on reliable media reports and the accounts of former administration officials.” He then goes on to describe the problems of proof, exacerbated by administration stone-walling, that prevent a conclusive determination on the presence of impeachable conduct.

Back in 1974, that was called obstruction of justice.

I can not seem to find the public outrage over obstruction of justice being tolerated by Congress under the explicit rationale that there might be a political backlash. I’m sure the outrage is lying around here somewhere—probably hiding under a pile of weapons of mass destruction.

It will not surprise my readers that I think that 43 crossed the line of impeachability long ago. If you are one of those poor souls who think the Democrats or Republicans will save us, however, it should shock you to learn that impeachment is no longer even an option. Where ever you may come down on the issues, this should torque you. Time after time politics trumps the rule of law yet there is no rage against the political machine.

And it is a political machine: the spirit of Tammany Hall is alive and well. Alive like some twisted vision of Mary Shelly crafted from the head of an elephant and ass of a donkey.

I wish Shelly were alive today to animate the American voters with a bolt of reality.

Whatever my wishes for a great awakening, the American voters continue their oblivious ways and seem poised to reactively return the Ass to the head of our political institutions. If you have been paying attention for the last several decades, you can go ahead and write the speeches now. The GOP urging us to stay the course with ads conjuring phantoms of terroristic demons that only they can be trusted to protect us against. While the Democrats will be urging a return to honest leadership and demonizing those who would send our children to war and poison our Earth to purposely make their lives miserable if they survive.

After all the fine speeches, the Democrats will win. This is the American way after a scandal such as is the current administration. And that of course means for the first time we will be saying “Madame President”.

The sad thing is that many of the hordes of people voting for Hilary will be doing so in a sincere effort to return our government to some semblance of respectability. It is sadder still that we have had a presidential administration so thoroughly obnoxious and incompetent that it makes Hilary look good in comparison. To borrow a phrase from a friend of mine, it is bone crushingly depressing that our choices will be limited to the candidates of Two-party Hall.

Not that I believe Two-party Hall exists as a simple hierarchical power structure. There is no Boss Tweed running the operation. No David Rockefeller behind the curtain. But the mutual self-interests of the power blocks within Two-party Hall operate to protect the family with almost as much loyalty as the machines of old.

Perhaps this is what they meant by “family values”.

Ruminate for a while on the reality of that which lies ahead as We the People turn away from a “culture of corruption” is the likelihood of returning the Clinton family to the White House. Consider their return to power in a world where lying to the American people, insider corporate dealing, unrepentant torture of prisoners, and obstruction of justice are charges too weak to justify impeachment proceedings. The rule of law has become of joke and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

But this joke is no laughing matter. We consistently let politicians off the hook as long as they stoically maintain their walls of plausible deniability. It is hard to laugh at the reelection of the President in the face of the horrible revelations from Abu Ghraib because people are willing to give him a pass on knowing the facts. We failed to remove his predecessor for lying under oath because the economy is good and the majority of Americans did not want to rock that boat. The litany of imperial tendencies could go on ad nauseum.

The problem with failing to take care that we remain a nation of laws is much larger than the political maneuvering of the current election cycle. James Madison articulated it well in the Federalist Papers when he wrote:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Does an executive branch that claims unilateral rights to take us to war, make decisions on searches without judicial assent, and abrogate ratified treaties sound like tyranny to anyone besides me? Do the rumblings about executive privilege make any of you queasy?

What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.

Unfortunately, developing an understanding of the legal implications in the broader populace is probably impossible at this point. Historically, Americans have relied on its opposition leaders to at least point out Constitutional abuses and corrupt practices, but where are the senior statesmen calling Conyers on the carpet for his outrage?

Obviously, these “statesmen” are busy protecting their own position and pecuniary interest rather than seeing to the long term health and viability of These United States. Ultimately, politicians who share the guilt for the destruction of our legal institutions can not be expected to hold their peers accountable. Only an awakening of the power of We the People can change our course and avert destruction.

I think if I were a betting man, I would bet with the power elite that lazy Americans will continue to take it all in stride, so long as their Tivo and porn surfing are not interfered with. However improbable significant social backlash may be our political elite would do well to heed a proverb that I recently heard: “At the end of the game the king and the pawn go back in the same box.”

King or Pawn, thinking about one’s future in a box would be a very good thing right now.