Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Delete George W. Bush?

Erasing Bush is the title of this article.

Are you sure you want to send George W. Bush to the Recycle Bin? Y/N

So, what will we do about the previous eight years of powerdrunk corruption and High Crimes and Misdemeanors? Er, I mean ALLEGED High Crimes and Misdemeanors? Should we investigate, prosecute and lock up the guilty bastards? Or should we forgive, put it all behind us and “move on?”

Those tough law-and-order Republicans — the same ones who spent hundreds of millions of YOUR tax dollars investigating Clinton — are now suddenly anxious to “move forward” and “not wallow in the past.”

Democrats have been divided over this ever since the 2006 mid-term elections. Some don’t want to divide the country with too much prying and investigating. Others don’t want to set a terrible precedent — that it’s OK to subvert the Constitution and invade sovereign countries as long as Congress is full of spineless douchebags who keep looking the other way.

Or there’s the school of thought that the best way to get even with an asshole is to not be one. After eight years of festering putrefying sewage in the White House, Obama could come in, drain the swamp and start running an open, honest, transparent administration. The contrast between the two presidents might be the most wicked revenge ever.

I personally would like nothing better than to just move on and pretend these eight years of corruption never happened. I’ve written a few less-then-kind things about the Dumbya Administration during the past four and a half years, but it’s over now. Thank God. Dealing with the worst economic crisis in 80 years is much more important than digging for skeletons in Bush’s closet.

But, there’s that precedent again. Our country has one of the best legal systems in the world, even after all the body blows it’s taken in the last eight years. The legal processes need to run their course, regardless of the end result.

Now, about that “let’s move forward” argument — in my previous post, Lew wrote in the comments section: “All crime happens in the past, rape, murder, and theft are all crimes of the past…and in no way can we justify overlooking some crimes because of a need to move forward.”

Good point, no? If you’re ever prosecuted for a crime, try defending yourself with “Aw, come on, that’s in the past. Let’s move forward now.” Let me know how that works out for you.

So — what to do?

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Blogger Snave said...

Do some investigating, but be low-key about it. It's kind of a tightwire act; the Dems want to see justice applied where it is deserved, but they also shouldn't want to splash investigations all over the media for months on end. If they pursue this, it isn't going to be something that can start and be finished within a few months. It would probably take a few years.

It's awful to want to do things or not do things (like move on from this) for the sake of political expedience, but there is always the right-wing shout machine to deal with. The media shouters may not actually represent the views of all that many Americans, but they do a great job of planting seeds of doubt in voters' minds. If they can cause enough Americans to believe that the intent of investigations is anything less than noble (which is of course how they would portray such actions) I believe it would be disastrous for the Democrats in 2010 and 2012.

The Democrats need to run things for more than just the next four years. Please, no one term and out. Some things need to be put firmly in place and need to be given time to succeed before the GOP can take over again.

FDR and Truman were in office for what, a total of 20 years, from what was it, 1932-1952? Had Truman not defeated Dewey in 1948, it is possible that major portions of FDR's New Deal could have been rolled back. The GOP was trying to roll it back then, just as they are trying now. But with Truman there to keep things in check for that extra term, the public became more accepting of Social Security, to the point that in the Fifties a Republican president, Eisenhower, even said something to the effect that anyone trying to get rid of Social Security would be "stupid". Given time, that key element of the New Deal gained public acceptance and became something the GOP didn't dare try to roll back.

The Democrats need to get going with some bold new initiatives and get them in place. If Obama can start up a major public works program and get universal health care installed within the next few years, get re-elected in 2012, and then a Democrat can get elected in 2016 we would be looking at universal health care having been in place for 8-10 years, as well as other possible elements of a New New Deal such as the re-establishment of the middle class through tax increases on the wealthiest few percent of Americans.

Given our nation's short attention span, many of us would likely forget what it was even like without universal health care, or would have forgotten that the richest of us were paying more in taxes.

In looking at long range planning, it seems that if the left undertook something like a huge investigation it would be portrayed as a witch hunt... and that might end up sinking the boat.

Do little investigations here and there, reach some conclusions, let the evidence take things where it may... but please, no big full-scale stuff just now.

Justice needs to be served, and if there is smoking gun evidence with which to serve it, fine. Politically? The last eight years were true hell for the country. I want to see the Democratic leaders have a vision for more than just the next couple of years. Something like a vision for the next 20 years works better for me.

I know that if Bush and Cheney are allowed to skate, it does set a horrible example. For the sake of that, something needs to be done... and probably more than a token effort.

But it's a tightrope. Balance is important here. Balance the need for justice with a long-term plan for the country, knowing full well that such a quest for justice could unintentionally set other things which could well be of equal importance back more than anyone wants.

January 25, 2009 at 9:47 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Rep. John Conyers and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform he is chairman of should hold hearings on the three Bush attorneys general and what went on at the DoJ.

If the committee ever gets that nailed down, it should turn its attention to what happened to American taxpayers' money in Iraq, with special attention to private contractors' charges and activities.

President Obama should name a special prosecutor to investigate how terror war prisoners were acquired, moved, incarcerated and treated, with particular attention to the "enhanced" interrogation techniques that lapsed into outright torture.

President Obama should name a panel to investigate NSA intrusions into the privacy of U.S. citizens. If clear violations of the Consitution and statutory law come to light, which seems likely, the matter should be turned over to a special prosecutor.

Even if these inquiries don't result in trials, much less convictions, they likely would serve as a deterrent. Future presidents, vice presidents, attorneys general and defense secretaries would have to reckon with the possibility of having at some point to lawyer up and spend months giving depositions and being questioned under oath after behaving in office the way Bush and his cabal did.

The overused and outrageously abused all-purpose fig leaf known as executive privilege might get the drastic comedown it ought to get.

Paying due respect to the rule of law by doing the investigations, at least, generating the deterrent effect and deflating executive privilege would be well worth the time, trouble and expense involved, plus all the inevitable Republican whining and yelling about political witch hunts.

I don't want revenge here. What I do want is to prevent another Bush-type administration from taking up where the original left off, secure in the knowledge it will be subject to no accountability and suffer no consequences.

January 25, 2009 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: Yup, there's definitely a tightrope to walk. We can't be perceived as being on a witch hunt, or getting so carried away with investigations that we're neglecting current problems. And of course that's how the wingnuts will spin it.

We need to let the legal machinery grind away and come to whatever conclusions it comes to. And in the meantime, Obama and Congress need to take care of the economy, the budget, health care coverage, etc. Like you said, it's most important for them to make a serious dent in those problems.

SW: Those are good specifics, and investigations that need to be made. The investigations themselves are the important thing, rather than the end result. We can't afford to have any future president think they can hide behind executive privilege and be totally unaccountable and untouchable no matter what they do.

January 26, 2009 at 1:34 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

That's a tough one. The worst of the transgressions cannot be ingored but, like Snave said, we don't want to splash investigations all over the media. This would cheapen the whole thing, and result in similar (though probably unjustified) response from the Right. A thoughtful approach is best.

January 26, 2009 at 2:42 AM  
Anonymous SunflowerPipes said...

Rather you love him or hate him Bush has to be the easiest president in history to make fun of. There has been an outpouring of art work done in relation to George Bush based on a wide variety of issues. I compiled the funniest images of Former president Bush from artists around the world at www.sunflowerpipes.com click the, "Best of Bush" tab. There are some truly inspired funny animations there there is even one with him smoking a glass water pipe. In the end how would you define Bush's presidency, comedy or tragedy, I mean if you had to pick one:)

Sunflower Pipes

January 26, 2009 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: Yup, it's a tough call. We can't let them get away without the legal process running its course. And we don't want to appear too obsessed with "wallowing in the past" which is how the Right will spin it.

SP: True, Bush is extremely easy to make fun of. That's probably his only redeeming characteristic. I'll check out your site.

January 26, 2009 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Ignoring the crimes of the Bush administration sets a bad precedent. How many future administrations will willingly break to constitution knowing the other party will be unwilling to even investigate the crimes for fear of appearing partisan and petty.

January 26, 2009 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: You're right, we can't let that precedent be set. Whatever investigations we do, the Right will spin it as "partisan and petty," but the Democrats can't let themselves get straitjacketed by rightwing smear attacks.

January 26, 2009 at 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

The big issue with the precedent here has to do with the very nature of the executive office.

The assumed powers of the President are so broad, the constitutional limitations on that power so vague, the oversight so polyglot and the realities of running such a massive administration so labyrintine that even the most transparent, honest and diligent administration cannot avoid being at odds with the law for four years.

If it was assumed that an incoming administration should prosecute the mis-steps of the preceding administration, presidents would find themselves unable to act in even the most basic of situations.

Granted, the Bush administrations transgressions have been more obvious and more egregious than most but that fact would do nothing to stop party lawyers from hamstringing any future executive of the opposing party.

January 26, 2009 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Thomas: Those are certainly real fears to be wary of. It's hard to know what to do. We don't want any more autocratic presidents who think they're a monarch; and we can't have so many limitations that a president will be afraid to act. Hopefully there's a happy medium somewhere.

January 26, 2009 at 4:21 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Caribou Barbie said we have to stop living in the past, didn't she? Of course, she's also the person that has spent most of her political career persecuting real and imagined opponents, which would seem to indicate that she has a bit of a problem letting go of the past.

Funny, that is.

January 26, 2009 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: I remember during the VP debate, Palin kept repeating shit like "Obama and Biden keep looking backward. John McCain and I are looking forward to solving America's problems," etc. But she sure does go after anybody who's ever crossed her in any way. So much for "moving on."

January 26, 2009 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger DB said...

I have an idea. Rather than "pointless" investigations, we should just assume they are guilty, hold them in prisons without charges, forbid them counsel, torture the hell out of them for answers, and botch whatever evidence there may be. It is the Republican thing to do.

Joking aside, I have to go with Snave and a few of the others. I think the best course for justice is quiet investigations that are not politicized or used to score points. It's an ideal, but if done with the respect that the previous administration lacked, it can provide fair results. Yes, this is more than what they deserve, but it is their rights. The same rights they refused to others. We would be no better than them if we botch these investigations.

January 27, 2009 at 4:32 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

The goopers will spin Obama drinking orange juice as partisan, so fuck 'em.

I dream of monstrous investigations because it's right and any deterrent to a future lunatic is a good thing.
SWA lays out some good suggestions, but I will say without shame that part of me certainly wants revenge, but I'm a petty man. ;-)

January 27, 2009 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

DB: I like your first paragraph better :)

Yes, the thing to do is let the investigation process run its course, behind the scenes. The end results are less important than the process itself. The best way to get even with the Bush gang is for Obama to show that he isn't sleazy or power-crazed like his predecessor.

Randal: Good point -- the wingnuts will spin every little thing as "proof" that Obama is a communist and a terrorist coddler and the Democrats would rather dig up dirt on Bush than solve current problems. So we might as well go ahead and do what needs to be done, and let the wingtards spew away.

January 27, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Screamin' Mimi said...

Absolutely we should go ahead with investigating and trying all the Neocon war criminals. After all, if any of one of us did anything "they" didn't like, there would be no question of letting bygones be bygones or any of the happy crappy. I say if it's good enough for us, it's damn well good enough for them.

January 27, 2009 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SM: You're right, the contrast and irony are too much. Conservatives are ready to throw the key away if somebody just might know somebody who knows a terrorist. But for themselves they want those constitutional protections that other suspects aren't entitled to.

It would almost be worth waterboarding them, just to have them agree that yes, waterboarding IS torture.

January 27, 2009 at 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

At the risk of repeating someone else, Snave has extremely good points to make. I am not hip on actual trials right now. The hard cold fact is, we've got more important things to worry about right now with the world economy going down the outhouse.

However, that said, I see no reasons why investigations can't be quietly carried out over the next 4 years, perhaps a few indictments of key but forgotten players, and when Obama wins his 2nd term in 2012, perhaps then begin to think about bringing about trials for the big boys.

However, shredding of the constitution itself is nothing new for american presidents. FDR, though I love him so, did just that when Japanese-Americans were interred on american soil during WWII. Theodore Roosevelt, though I love him too, did it with his trust-busting and corporation-controlling measures. He just happened to be on the right side. TR also was pretty instrumental in concocting the Spanish American war - which wasn't anywhere near the killing machine league of Iraq, but was a concocted war, all the same.

Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus after the Civil War broke out. I happen to think he may have been right on that one.

The Venerable John Adams allowed the Alien & Sedition act to become law - and that was a horrible rip in the brand new constitution of a brand-new nation.

My point is that there is plenty of precedent for presidents abusing their executive power, sometimes they are on the right side of the argument, more often not they are on the wrong side. This BushCo guy just happened to be so far on the wrong side of the argument that it truly boggles the mind just how wrong-sided he was.

However, what happened in these instances is that Congress went along with each and every overstep, when Congress is supposed to be a check on the power-grabbing of the executive branch, and that is precisely what happened for the last 8 years. So, maybe if we're talking about trials, we should be talking about trials for everyone who signed the Patriot Act without even reading it.

January 27, 2009 at 4:31 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Bee, I'm sure it would take some time to thoroughly investigate Bush & Co.'s most suspect activities and established breaches of law. I doubt it would or should take four years and then some.

You make interesting points about the missteps of past presidents. However, if it was a fact that you had a neighbor down the street burglarized a year ago, one across the street six months ago, several in nearby apartments a few weeks back and your next-door neighbor got hit yesterday, would you be any less anxious to see the burglars brought to justice, just for the fact it's not that uncommon to be burglarized where you live? I don't think so. I think you'd be all the more anxious for the burglars to be caught and dealt with.

Congress is supposed to be a check on the executive, and it failed miserably during the Bush years. Of course, for six years that was an inside job, and it was nearly as bad for the past two. That said, the period wasn't a proud chapter in the Democrats' record, especially Senate Democrats.

We need serious reworking of the war power act and a much clearer protocol for when, where and how the president can take the country to war, except in cases where the U.S. proper is being attacked.

We need reform to provide all members of Congress the latest and best intelligence available, at least regarding sensitive situations with a high potential for requiring military intervention. This business of including only a select few is bad policy.

Finally, we need a public ready to speak up and push back when one party, especially the party holding the White House, is pushing for war and calling anyone who disagrees un-American and unpatriotic. The public must keep in mind what kind of government they get when they try to "set it and forget it," leaving things to political insiders and supposed experts — especially of the conservative and Republican kind.

Yes, Bush and his organized-crime family deserve a date with justice. Yes too many congressional Democrats exhibited spines like overcooked macaroni. But in our democracy it utlimately goes back to the people.

January 27, 2009 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: That's true about all the previous presidents you mentioned who crossed the line and abused their power. Without having much detailed knowledge of history, I'm guessing that most of those abuses were well intentioned. They had worthy goals and thought the ends justified the means, etc. (Not counting the Alien and Sedition Act -- that was a power grab and nothing else.)

With the Bush Administration, I just don't see any motive other than power and greed. Rightwing "christian" leaders who've been trying for decades to establish a theocracy here; robber barons who want to get rid of the public safety regulations that go back to the 1930s; twisted warmongers -- Dumbya was taking orders from all of those sickfucks. Dumbya only cared about stepping out of Jeb's shadow so his mother would coddle him again, and he was willing to step on anybody and any institution that got in his way.

But I digress...

I think history will show the Dumbya Administration to be the worst ever; "utterly without redeeming social value" as the saying goes. But the purpose of investigating and prosecuting Bush and his cronies is only to let the legal machinery do what it has to do, regardless of the end result.

We can't set the example where an administration can be totally crooked, and not face consequences.

But you're right that these investigations can't take priority over the vast problems we're facing right now.

SW: "Too many congressional Democrats exhibited spines like overcooked macaroni." LOL. Almost too true to be funny.

January 27, 2009 at 8:33 PM  

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