THE PRESIDENT’S CONTEMPT
by Michael Hammerschlag
In Russia, Vladimir Putin has been accused by some of contributing to the poisoning of Kremlin critic Litvinenko, and the recent exposure of another assassination plot against deposed and despised oligarch Boris Berezovsky adds more fuel to the suspicions.
But in America, Bush’s guilt in the deaths of over a hundred thousand isn’t a matter of conjecture. The invasion of Iraq has easily cost that, though in America, we only talk about the 30,000 Americans killed and wounded. The coming genocide will likely kick the total number up to a million. The manifest lies, fabrications, and falsehoods that Bush, Cheney, and their neocon cabal used to start this war: the fantasy mushroom cloud of non-existent bombs from nonexistent uranium purchases purified by non-existent centrifuges… are all well known and documented- denied only by the zombetic 20% far right faithful who still think the Iraq War is going well. In Africa, India, S. America… Bush has killed tens of thousands more from AIDs by insisting a third of funding go to idiotic religious abstinence training and virtually banning condom distribution in US aid programs. But a virus’s only faith is to spread.
America is emerging from a long twilight of lawlessness that it has never seen; where trillions of dollars have been handed to the rich and corporations in tax givebacks; where a dishonest and strategically suicidal war was rammed through a compliant hack Congress; where our security was compromised by utter incompetence and vicious politics; where corruption grew to monstrous proportions; and devastating preventable attacks shattered our mental stability. Rather than deal with these challenges with courage, grace, and wisdom; Mr. Bush used them to pervert our Constitution and trash our ideals- with illegal torture, spying on citizens, unjustified invasion, suspension of habeas corpus, and vast payoffs.
Mr. Bush, a poor student, never understood or abided by the Constitution- his twisted idea is that it says whatever he claims it does- that his unitary power (in the neocon’s catch phrase) trumps every provision of checks and balances, because he is a war president- the decider. Republican acolytes in the Congress, after riding roughshod over the Dems for 12 years, have endorsed that warped idea- willfully handing over their own Congressional prerogatives and responsibilities to Administration power grabs. In Russia, the packed Congress went father, allowing Putin to gut Russia’s nascent democracy and abolish most elections.
The level of arrogance, criminality, and insolence of the Bushistas is evident by his minions simply refusing to testify to Congress, citing their oath to the President. Their oath to the President? Maybe in Louis 16th‘s time, but then he was called a King- in America their oath is to the Constitution, and it says Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and has an absolute and irrevocable authority to investigate (to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court; to make rules for the Government). One no-show is Harriet Miers- whom Bush nominated to the Supreme Court.
It is understandable that the Bushmen want to avoid testifying: there are many massive crimes that must be kept secret: the illegal bugging of Americans, the California energy ripoff, the early plotting of the Iraq War conspiracy, the hundreds of billions of payoffs to corporate pals. When they did testify, America witnessed the spectacle of our highest law enforcement official- the sycophantic disgrace AG Alberto Gonzales- perjure himself over and over. Where are the “It was perjury!” Clinton impeachment Republican strict constructionists now?
It’s time Congress take back their honor and duty and compel these testimonies- by their own enforcement mechanisms of inherent contempt, since the Administration is now directing the DC US attorney to ignore any referral for contempt prosecution- itself a breathless expression of contempt for the Constitution and Congress. In inherent contempt, the Sergeant-at-Arms and Capitol Police can arrest the accused and bring him before Congress, which can imprison him as punishment or coercion.
The 22-17 House Judiciary Committee vote July 25 to find Miers and Bolton in (regular statutory) contempt shows how compromised Rove Republicans have become: in 1983 when Rita Lavelle refused to appear, the full House voted unanimously: 413-0 for contempt. They won’t even consider it till they come back in Sept.- that will delay compliance for 3 more months when the Justice Dept. ignores their citation.
Republicans in Congress also must realize that their fervent desire to blindly protect their President, and their own culpability in his abuses, may lead to a 25 year bomb proof Democratic majority, richly deserved if for nothing else than the abusive Clinton impeachment (when Bin Laden otherwise may well have been dispatched after the Africa US embassy bombings).
Mr. Bush’s imaginary “executive privilege” covers everything he’s ever done, because the primeval tar pit of his malfeasance is so vast. But if Congress doesn’t force the issue, all investigations will grind to a halt, and the Congress will be forever weakened by this Administration’s defiance. "If we do not enforce this subpoena, no one will ever have to come before the Judiciary Committee again," John Conyers said.
Mr. Bush, judging by the Vietnam shirker and neo-deserter’s vicious slander of bemedaled war hero John Kerry, isn’t very good at history either. He forgot the recent searing lessons of Vietnam on the folly of occupying a violent alien country against a guerrilla war, and blithely allowed the looting of 40% of the heavy munitions that are blasting Iraq to pieces with IED’s.
Since this administration’s contempt knows no bounds- it’s time to put impeachment back on the table (which Pelosi foolishly removed), because that is the prescribed Constitutional cure for a wanton, destructive, dishonest, insufferable, out of control leader.
Louis 16th, who precipitated the French Revolution by overruling and bypassing his Parliament, had it a little harder. You might say, he lost his head.
Michael Hammerschlag's commentary and articles (HAMMERNEWS.com) have appeared in International Herald Tribune, Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Hawaii Advertiser, Capital Times, MediaChannel; and Moscow News, Tribune, Times, and Guardian. In Russia now, he broke the first story on the media mistakes in the 2000 election, examined Dean’s destruction and the Cheney shooting, and analyzed the disaster of Iraq from 5 months before the invasion.
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