Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Years of Bush Officials Looking Over their Shoulders

Before I get started I have to say that Obama's choice of Daley for his Chief of Staff is it. $#^!& Obama. He just shot himself in the foot.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Remember two years ago, when Obama was coming into office, we wondered if the new administration would hold Bush administration officials accountable for their crimes? Crimes like illegal wiretapping and surveillance, placing Republican Party operatives into US attorney positions in line for future federal judge positions, various instances of obstructing justice and misleading Congress, like intentionally under estimating the cost of the prescription drug law? Oh yea, starting a war of aggression on false pretext, again misleading Congress, renditions, torture. The only one we ever hear about these days is torture as if all the other supposedly 269 broken laws are just too petty to deal with.

All of the above citations are from the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Mother Jones. Karen Greenberg wrote an article called "The People vs. Dick Cheney," that raised the question and the options for "bringing the Bushies to account."

Just to look back a little, here are the ways Greenberg identified Bush could be brought to account:

  • A Rouge District Attorney: Based on a legal strategy by the famous prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, any county of the approximately 2,700 district attorneys, at any time in the future (multiply 2,700 by 10 as different individuals are cycled thru over the coming years) could prosecute Bush for the deaths of soldiers in the DA's county that died in Iraq.
  • Ticked-off Lawyers: Bush administration lawyers, John Yoo, David Addington, Alberto Gonzolez, Jay Bybee brought shame to the profession. Many in the legal community would like to re-establish the credibility of the profession. If they can't make criminal charges stick, they can seek to have Bush lawyers de-barred, and in the case of Jay Bybee, impeached from the federal judgeship he currently holds.
  • The United Nations: Secretary General Kofi Annan said, explicitly, the Iraq war was illegal. The UN could find crimes were committed, as it did in the case of US dirty war against Nicaragua (mining its harbors); however, enforcement of the findings lies with the UN Security Council. Still, it's a way of bringing out the facts.
  • International Criminal Court: Another long shot, but it is a potential forum.
  • The Garzon Factor: Spanish judge Baltizar Garzon went after Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, having him arrested in Britain. The same could occur some day to various Bush officials. We saw the gears of that process start turning on CIA agents involved in renditions and Guantanamo torture, only to be stopped under intense political pressure according to recently leaked State Department cables.

Many of these avenues don't require Obama to do anything except stay out of the way. A gutsy local DA, a determined foreign judge could start a legal process. Each simple, incremental step would stand on its own merits, leading to its own logical conclusion, taking on a life of its own. Bush officials know this, which is why they've hired lawyers, bought legal insurance, etcetera. They will live the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Pakistan's Inflation

I'm not claiming to know enough about how Pakistan's economy is linked to the rest of the global economy to say what it's inflation problem means for the US, but it apparently has an inflation problem. According to the Associated Press:

The Muttahida Quami Movement, the second largest party in the ruling coalition, said Sunday it would join the opposition because of fuel price hikes, inflation and the Ruling Pakistan People's Party's general poor performance.

Charles Goyette, conservative libertarian noted for his strong anti-war views, has a New York Times best-selling book out now called The Dollar Meltdown. In an interview last week he said that by Spring 2011 we can expect to see TV news crews standing outside of grocery stores doing the story on how much less your dollar can buy.

Not sure I trust the timing of his prediction, but it does prompt me to get going on locking down a loan for some home improvement work I'm planning... one without an adjustable rate.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Who Rules in the World?

Reading the intro to Robert McChesney's "Communications Revolution"* today I was reminded of the following quote. It's from "The Revolt of the Masses" by Ortega y Gasset*, chapter 14 entitled, "Who Rules in the World?":

"It is necessary to distinguish between a process of aggression and a state of rule. Rule is the normal exercise of authority, and is always based on public opinion, today as a thousand years ago, amongst the English as amongst the bushmen. Never has anyone ruled on this earth by basing his rule essentially on any other thing than public opinion."

Not sure I buy much else written by Ortega y Gasset, but this resonated.

McChesney observes that the communications system is going through a transition that we can influence. In simple terms, the outcome of that transition will a media system that either "emphasizes democratic values" or "corporate profits." The default will be greater corporate domination, or "rule," over every facet of our lives and the future of our republic.

McChesney calls on us to seize "an unprecedented opportunity in the coming generation..."

... to create a communication system that will be a powerful imptus to a dramatically more egalitarian, humane, sustainable, and creative society, where justice and self-government are the order of the day.

He warns that

This window of opportunity -- what I call "a critical juncture" -- will not be open for long. We will be opposed by very powerful entrenched corporate and political interests. We will need all hands on deck to win the fight.

If we fail, the outcome of "who rules in the world" is predictable.


Communications Revolution: Critical Junctures and the Future of Media, Robert M. McChesney, the New Press, (2007).