Tag Archives: journalists

Essential Reading: Cheating Justice

 

Reviewer of Cheating Justice:

“…no one in our government has the backbone or balls to do the right thing.”

Not then, and not now.

Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t remember this book getting a lot of play in 2013. It should have. And, it should be getting a lot of play now in the context of the take-over of the government by a transnational organized crime group otherwise known as the Trump administration.

Elizabeth Holtzman has been on numerous news programs in the past three years, but I cannot remember once, once, hearing her asked about this book, which every news pundit needs to be reading and talking about.

I remember being 20 years old and watching Elizabeth Holtzman on television as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. I stayed home from work to watch her vote for articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1973.

Years later, Holtzman became an outspoken advocate for impeaching George W. Bush.

In this book, Holtzman points out that legal accountability (for Bush and Cheney, et. al.) could have come many years after the president and his staff were out of office.  when she wrote the book, it wasn’t too late.

But, accountability didn’t come.  There was no legal accountability for Bush and Cheney and others who conspired to deceive the American people about the need for a war against Iraq, who broke surveillance law against wiretapping, and who authorized and used the form of torture known as waterboarding.

I live in fear that this is exactly what will happen with Trump and the rest of his chronies, Barr, Mulvaney, Bolton, Sondland, Conway, Bannon…

As Holtzman’s book clearly illustrates, the Trump administration is not the first to use the Office of Legal Counsel as a mechanism to create the impression that their illegal behavior is legal.  The Bush Administration used the Office of Legal Counsel to craft opinions so absurd that they then made the decisions classified so people couldn’t see how rationally tortured they were.   So, this is not the first time the OLC has been an essential part of Executive law breaking.  The OLC is a tool in the kit of unscrupulous authoritarians.

I don’t hear anybody, though, pointing this out.  I don’t hear any discussion of the long history of using the OLC as a weapon.  I don’t remember anyone having Holtzman talk about the OLC and Mueller’s use of the opinion preventing presidental indictment as a dodge to hold him accountable.  I don’t hear anyone having Holtzman talk about the centrality of the OLC in the Republican campaign to install a one-party state in which authoritarian government rules.

This is not the first rodeo for these folks (the Barrs, the Mulvaneys, the McConnells). They know how to play this game and are playing it for all it’s worth. Nobody in the corporate media is talking about it. Instead, the corporate media is mired in the ins and outs of what amounts to Trump psycho babble and hours of analysis of polls they themselves admit are no longer accurate because of changes in technology.  There is endless discussion of the minutia of legal reasoning, whether criminal intent can be established in white collar and corporate and government cases without a verified videotape of the offender committing a specific crime and confessing to it.

There is no discussion of why the laws regarding state, corporate and white collar crime have been rewritten to make them almost impossible to convict on.  There is no discussion of the cowardice of state and federal prosecutors to go after the crimes of wealthy people and the loss of expertise to prosecute complicated cases.  (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.”)  Where is this discussion?

The Republicans have been laying the groundwork for this take over of democracy for decades. William Barr has been intimately involved in crafting the mechanisms of state to accomplish this purpose. He saw that Trump could be the man they could use to achieve this end, and he auditioned for the job.

These guys aren’t playing. They have been at this for decades and they are not going to give up. People need to stop deluding themselves that this is politics as usual. It is not.

The Chris Coons of the world will sell us out. While congratulating themselves and having the corporate media heap them with praise for “bipartisan” effort,  the Coons will make deals and compromises.  Coons did just that and helped Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court.  The Joe Bidens of the world just want to go back to business as usual – the regular corruption with good manners. The corporate news pundits like Nicolle Wallace will laugh us through normalizing the end of democracy, having a grand old time doing it. The Chuck Rosenberg’s of the world will sooth us and tell us that there’s nothing to be alarmed about, the professionals will save us. They will not. And we must not let them fool us into thinking so.

The leadership of the Democratic party is culpable as well. George W. Bush should have been impeached.  He should have been put in jail along with Cheney.  The man knowingly lied us into a war where almost 5,000 Americans were killed and God knows how many Iraquis.  But he is now treated like a sweet, dottering old fool.  The fact that he is spending his time painting the faces of dead servicemen isn’t even considered weird as hell.

And, we have Nanci Pelosi publicly joking that people wanted her to impeach Bush.  She makes this statement and waits for people to laugh.  How stupid, how naive that people wanted her to impeach Bush.  This is where we are.

“Cheating Justice” is a book that is essential reading for anyone who thinks Trump is different, that Trump is not the logical culmination of Repubican starategy launched decades ago. It is essential reading for anyone who believes that Republicans have been led down an immoral rabbit hole by Trump. It is essential reading for anyone who believes (as Biden purports to) that the Republicans will go back to being rational and honest people after Trump is gone. THEY WILL NOT.

Republicans were corrupt before Trump and they will be corrupt after Trump.

 

Comments on Cheating Justice:

The crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration were exposed but unpunished. “Extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretapping, torture: we cannot live with this legacy, but neither can we seem to escape it. No one is better qualified than Elizabeth Holtzman—prosecutor, congresswoman, member of the Watergate committee—to confront this legal and moral conundrum and show the way forward. Cheating Justice, like its author, is fierce, bold, and unflinching. A powerful, necessary book.”—Mark Danner, author of Stripping Bare the Body
Gloria Steinman: The Bush/Cheney administration “subverted civil liberties, human rights and the law itself and then used”… 9/11 to cover it up.”

JohnConyers, Jr.: Holtzman’s book could provide us important insights into “how we can prevent those (actions) from recurring.”

They Were Chosen Because They Were Sleaze

nicolle

One of the main reasons we are in such a disastrous position politically in this country is the corporate media.  The corporate media gave Trump tens of millions of dollars of free airtime in the 2016 election, did not cover (and have still not adequately covered) Trump’s extensive criminal financial background and associations, and continues to normalize his criminal behavior and that of his minions.

Tuesday night, I tuned in to watch part of Nicolle Wallace’s program and found her and her panel constructing a narrative that US Ambassador to the EU, Gordan Sondland was basically a good guy who had wanted to be an ambassador for years.  As they spun the story, Sondland had worked so hard to get the job as an ambassador.  Sondland was just so thrilled to have been appointed, he wanted badly to please the Trump administration.  The poor inexperienced man was caught between Trump and Giuliani and was just trying to do the right thing for Ukraine.  Poor soul.  It was all just another example of how good people get ruined when they associate with Donald Trump.

There are so many things wrong with this narrative, I don’t know where to begin.  First, there is no evidence to support this fiction. Sondland didn’t work hard to get appointed ambassador.  He bought the position with a $1 million contribution to Trump’s campaign.  There is no evidence in the text messages and cables that Sondland cared one whit about doing the right thing for Ukraine.  He cared about assisting the “drug deal” that Trump, Guiliani and the rest of them were putting together.  Sondland knew what he was doing was wrong because he tried to cover it up by asking Volker to communicate with him over the phone rather than in writing about the plot.  Gordon Sondland is not a good person who got caught up in a criminal enterprise.  He was chosen because he was and is just the sort of person who would happily get involved in a criminal enterprise.

But, corporate media stars like Nicolle Wallace, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will white-wash all the major players in this running transnational scandal.  They have done so for years.

Scarborough and Brzezinski were called “supporters” by Trump himself and were celebrating at Mar-a-lago after the election.  They only broke with Trump after he outed their adulterous affair.  Nicolle Wallace spent months castigating all the Trump administration members who didn’t quit their jobs in the White House.  She, however, worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who lied us into a war that killed almost 5,000 American and God knows how many Iraqis.  Wallace was on television just after Bret Kavanaugh delivered a contrived temper tantrum at the end of his confirmation hearings.  Wallace felt sorry for him, fell for it hook-line-and sinker.  Scarborough spent months before the Mueller report came out telling us that our “institutions continue to hold.”  This morning, Brezezinski told the MSNBC audience that Sen. Kennedy (sucks being this dumb) was a “good guy” and had allowed himself to be drawn into Trump’s sleaze.

These people are not good people who have been drawn into anything.  Most of them were chosen because they were the same sort of sleaze Trump is.  Others went into this with their eyes open, so craven they didn’t care what they were agreeing to.  They all deserve contempt, ridicule, impeachment, many of them prosecution, and shunning.

These people were immoral scum before Trump even thought about running for office and they will be immoral scum after he leaves.  People like Mitch McConnell and William Barr are not “good guys.”  They are dangerous men, willing to do anything, anything to maintain this shot at permanent power they have carved out around Donald Trump.

When people like Wallace and Scarborough and Brzezinski try to absolve them of guilt and weave fictional narratives explaining their behavior, they become enablers of this attempt to overthrow and crush democracy.

Media: Poor Mika

morning joe in pajamas

Once again, Mika Brzezinski is hiding behind a jeremiad about sexism to excuse her dismal performance as a journalist.

When I turned on Morning Joe yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the dreadful Joe Scarborough had the day off.  This usually means that we can have three hours of relatively interesting discussion free from the self-congratulatory bombast meted out every morning by the primary host.  But, what ensued was three hours of Mika Brzezinski demonstrating that she desperately needs Joe Scarborough in more ways than I can count.

Brzezinski rarely contributes anything meaningful to the daily discussion.  She looks on lovingly as Joe rants, and does what I think of as “editorial face making.”  Rather than do the research that would make her comments meaningful, she hides behind being bullied by Scarborough.  This woman who prides herself on being a role model for young women, engages in the worst type of female stereotypical behavior.  She sits meekly by and makes faces while Joe rants.  She does not engage him in debate, nor does she confront him or contradict him.  She, like the rest of the panel, allows herself to be bullied every morning.

But what yesterday demonstrated so well is the fact that she is, evidently, incapable of doing anything else.  This morning Scarborough went through a little rant about how Mika was being unfairly accused of being “emotional” for her embarrassing performance the day before.  The point (which both of them rarely get) is not that she was overly emotional, but that she was nothing else.  I do not turn into a morning news discussion program to see someone emote.  I turn in for rational discussion and some evidence of intelligent thinking.  Wringing of hands and staring soulfully into the camera is not intelligent discussion.

What she and Joe don’t get is that nobody cares about their personal feelings.  Remember this is the program where the two hosts appeared in front of a fire in their pajamas to do the news during the holidays.  Pajamas?  Really?  Do they really think they are so cute that we give a damn about seeing them cozy up to each other in their pajamas?  Are they mad?  They talk about Mika’s chickens for God’s sake.  Message to Morning Joe:  WE DON’T CARE.

But, as usual, this morning, they are talking about…wait for it…themselves.