On January 20, 2009 a new president will take over the White House. It will either be John McCain – the “Maverick Man” who will no longer be in the US Senate, that famous non-“Washington insider” institution – one heart beat away from a Christian fascist US president (Sarah “bridge to nowhere” Palin), or it will be Barack Obama, another self-described defector from that same non-“Washington insider” US Senate, side-by-side with another non-“Washington insider” of thirty-five years, Joe Biden.
The changes they promise us! Isn’t it wonderful that people who’ve been insiders for decades can suddenly after all of that time become agents of change against what they themselves have been a part of for so long? Isn’t it wonderful that moneyed interests such as Goldman Sachs, who’ve always bankrolled the insiders, are underwriting the people in both parties who say that they will change the culture of Washington? Aren’t those investment bankers something?!
I do so love the fact that I have the right to buy the Uncola from the same company that makes Cola! It makes me feel so different and such a non-conformist! Lord, what freedom of choice we enjoy in this land of liberty!
Despite all of this good news – I am giddy with excitement! – let me be serious here for a moment: who takes office really isn’t the most important question.
For Americans, for the world, and for the planet’s future, the most important question is: will the Bush Regime’s precedents-setting and open flouting of national and international law be permitted to stand?
Up to this point the answer is, of course, yes, their behavior in explicit contravention of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Kyoto Protocol – all this and more that they have repeatedly, flagrantly, egregiously, and intentionally violated – is the new norm for the American presidency and the US government as a whole.
Even if the new occupant of the White House does not choose to utilize all of the dictatorial powers that the Bush Regime has employed, even if the new occupant doesn’t seize office in a fraudulent election as the Bush Regime did in 2000 and again in 2004, even if the new president acts like the most compassionate, enlightened person to ever walk the earth, the fact that Bush and Cheney and their henchmen and henchwomen have not been held to account – this gang’s crimes earned the World War II Nazis and Japanese war criminals, after all, the death penalty – means that any president after this has been given the green light to not only do what the Bush Regime has done, but to go even further.
What’s Farfetched Now?
How much further can they go than they have already?
They could go from pre-emptively rounding up protesters and brutalizing them, employing cruel and unusual punishment on suspects and framing them on terrorism charges as they did at the RNC to … what is the one next step after that? Shoot protestors. Aim at them and pull the trigger and say it was just an accident – “they were throwing things at us and the gun went off.” That will shut those damn malcontents up. That will teach them what freedom and liberty are all about!
Beyond instituting fascist laws like the Patriot Act and the Protect America Act they could – what’s the next step after that? – round up and imprison a Congressperson who opposes them in Congress. Yes. That’s it. Claim it was for something else – corruption or a sex scandal – but the subtext will be clear that this was someone who was a thorn in our side. We’ve already done this to a governor of New York. A member of Congress would be the logical next step.
Beyond tapping American journalists’ phones, shooting and bombing journalists overseas, threatening them with abetting terrorism charges, and torturing some of non-American journalists, what’s the next step after that? Charging selected American-born journalists with sedition. Take one of them and torture them. That should work like a charm. Or a prominent journalist who’s been overly critical could have an “accident.”
Beyond declaring that the Congress has no right to subpoena the testimony of White House staffers, and refusing to testify before Congress, what’s the next step after that? Plant a bomb and set it off in the Capitol in a false flag operation and blame it all on terrorists, use it as a pretext to implement emergency power measures. After all, procedures for emergency powers are in the Warner Act and in the secret provisions handed down by Bush in NSPD-51. It worked for the Nazis when they burned down the Reichstag and blamed it on the Communists. We can’t let the Nazis hog all the good ideas!
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If you think any of the preceding is farfetched, think about what has already been done and whether you’d have scoffed if someone a few years ago had predicted that the President would one day openly admit waterboarding suspects (i.e., torturing people) and the rest of the nation’s political leadership and opinion leadership would collectively yawn?
David “the Octopus” Addington, Dick Cheney’s Chief-of-Staff, has declared: “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court.” Addington got his wish courtesy of the US Congress under the Democrats’ leadership even without another 9/11. He got it thanks to Mr. Clean Change Himself (his running mate said he was clean) who voted for the bill, reneging on his promise to filibuster the Telecom Amnesty Bill.
Obama has said that he will continue to use signing statements as president, following the lead of Bush who has used them more than 750 times to claim and implement the right to ignore the law just passed by Congress.
People wonder why the Democrats have refused to prosecute the Bush Regime for not only high crimes and misdemeanors (i.e., abuse of office), but for actual crimes and crimes against humanity. How is this possible?
Lawyers have a phrase they sometimes use to refer to people or companies who file actions that they shouldn’t: “unclean hands.”
In “The Democrats’ Sleight of Hand,” I pointed out that the major candidates for president have sullied themselves by their failure to act against monstrosities such as torture – even though they have had the power to do so – when it counted and when they should have. They have had the power for more than the last seven years to prevent these terrible crimes against humanity and against the people from being carried out.
Time and again they have failed to the point where quite some time ago – I would personally date this from the September 2006 Congressional vote on the Military Commissions Act – they crossed the Rubicon and threw in their lot with the Bush regime. After a certain point you become complicit in the crimes you allow to be carried out and you cannot go back subsequently and repudiate these actions without also implicating yourself in those crimes. You knew and you didn’t stop it. You knew and you facilitated it. You knew.
Even if Obama and McCain were to want to redress the terrible wrongs that they have committed, they would have to unveil not only themselves as moral cowards but expose their parties’ leadership and the mass media. They would have to go up against everything that they have benefited from and been an integral part of.
They have not only unclean hands. They are dripping with blood from head to toe.
Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then
’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow’r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?
— Macbeth Act 5, scene 1, 36-40
Anyone who hopes that voting for and supporting one of these criminals will somehow magically restore decency, humanity and the rule of law needs to look more closely at what these people are saying and what they have done over the last several years and draw the appropriate conclusions.
You also need to look in the mirror and ask yourself what kind of person you are if you don’t publicly speak out and show your moral outrage at the horrid crimes being committed by our government.
Elections are not a form of expressing public sentiment and making that popular sentiment the dicta. Elections are a form of preparing the people to accept policies that the ruling parties intend to implement and to get the people’s ratification for those policies. They are the equivalent of pressing blood money into the people’s hands and getting them to accept it, thereby ensnaring the people in those bloody deeds. The Bush Regime did it to Congress and Congress cooperated. Now, like vampires passing on their bad blood, they are doing it to the American people as a whole.
Imagine the upheaval in this country if the Democrats or Republicans were to open the Pandora’s box of crimes and monsters and reveal to the world what Congress was part and parcel of permitting? There is no way to undo these crimes and right these wrongs without self-incrimination of major players and leaders in Congress.
Nancy Pelosi was briefed in 2002 along with three other Democrats on the waterboarding of prisoners – they were shown the videos, the videos that the CIA subsequently destroyed. Pelosi and the other Democrats were also briefed on the fact that the White House was feloniously wiretapping all Americans. So as far back as 2002 she and they knew. Pelosi and they said nothing back then. What has Pelosi said over and over again since? “Impeachment is off the table.”
Even beyond self-incrimination, the Democrats and Republicans, and specifically McCain and Obama, would be implicating the entire system if they proceeded to impeach, indict and imprison the Bush White House criminals. Does anyone of us think that they have that kind of courage? Does anyone think that if any of them were to have a sudden awakening that they wouldn’t instantly be marginalized by the rest of the establishment and silenced in one way or another? All it would take would be for McCain to have a sudden “”heart attack” or Obama to be gunned down by some “lone gunman” and presto, they’re out of the way and we’ve got a new president.
The only force capable of righting these terrible wrongs is the mass actions of the American people. Nothing else is strong enough and big enough. The blood demanding justice runs wide and deep and it’s flowing as we speak.
A real change begins with a few people with the courage and determination to stand up and say, “Here I stand in witness. I can do no other. Join me, all you who have a conscience.”
DENNIS LOO is an associate professor of Sociology at Cal-Poly Pomona. He is the co-author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. He can be reached at http://dennisloo.blogspot.com.