Its driving so many of us completely nuts. Bush and Cheney (I no longer have enough respect to use their titles, breaking a life-long habit even with officials I have despised) are now openly moving to make the United States an effective autocracy. They have been asserting extraordinary and unprecedented claims and acts of executive overreach all along. But their two most recent executive proclamations have moved their somewhat stealthy efforts to the point of open provocation. In Executive Order 51, Bush appears to be claiming the power to essentially summarily take the property of anyone his Treasury Department deems to be harming the war effort. This is a direct violation of the Due Process Clauses of our Constitution, not to mention the Declaration of Independence and even the flippin’ Magna Carte for that matter.
In another breathtaking and shocking move (no satire intended), Bush declared that Congress cannot pursue contempt proceedings through the Justice Department (a Congressional creation, by the way) against subpoenaed witnesses who refuse to testify in the US Attorney firings investigation because the President has declared executive privilege.* Take a moment to understand what that means. Bush is declaring executive privilege and then declaring that Congress cannot have his declaration challenged in court because the Justice Department cannot prosecute Congressional contempt citations. In other words, the President’s mere command rules supreme over Congress and the Courts, shielding his behavior and his handling of a Department of government created by and subject to the supervision of the Congress. That, my friends is autocracy and autocracy announced boldly and openly. Kinda like, “Bring it on.”
*“Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings”, Washington Post, july 20, 2007 (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/07/20/2649/
So why, why under such a threat of literally breaking our Constitution; why when polls show half of Americans and large majorities of Democrats and Independents support impeachment proceedings, why when even staunch conservatives such as Paul Craig Roberts and Bruce Fein and Goldwater conservative John Dean are all screaming for impeachment, why when the President is wildly unpopular and the Vice even more so. Oh why oh why. . .
Why won’t Congress impeach?
One work, baby, one word.
To understand why Bush and Cheney will never face the type of serious impeachment hearings Clinton suffered, you need to first look back at the 2004 Presidential “election” (further if you like, but 2004 is a particularly pointed illustration.) Our “choices” were between (1) a 60-something multi-millionaire white male graduate of elite Yale University, member of an established Eastern seaboard politically and financially elite family and member of the ultra elitist, ultra secret ethnocentric Skull and Bones Society at Yale and (2) a 60-something multi-millionaire white male graduate of elite Yale University, member of an established Eastern seaboard politically and financially elite family and member of the ultra elitist, ultra secret ethnocentric Skull and Bones Society at Yale.
They were presented as nearly caricature opposites – a Massachusetts liberal and a Texas conservative. But, it was nothing more than a charade that they belonged to different parties and occupied opposite poles of the policy spectrum. They agreed on the one thing that matters to our true masters: preserving essentially unfettered capitalism (Kerrey would have only nibbled a few edges) and protecting and enabling the wealthy in getting wealthier no matter what. (This is not a conspiracy-theory piece, by the way. I am not arguing collusion. This is just the way it actually is.)
Now, think about the “revolutionary” election of 2006, a mass uprising of populist fury sweeping out a tide of stale, elitist Republicans and sweeping into a position to counter balance President 60-something multi-millionaire white male graduate of elite Yale University, privileged son of an established Eastern seaboard politically and financially elite family and member of the Skull and Bones Society at Yale, who?
A 60-something multi-millionaire graduate of private Trinity College in D.C.* daughter of an established, politically and financially elite Eastern Seaboard family who was driven to elementary school in limousine. And guess how she and Bush are portrayed? As nearly caricature opposites: a San Francisco liberal and Texas conservative. You already know the one thing they agree on. *(Currently 27K/year with room and board, not outrageous by today’s inflated standards, to be fair).
Whatever mythology you may have heard about Pelosi, and however much you (like me) agree with many of her positions and think she and her genius daughter Alexandra generally rock, she rose to prominence in the Democratic Party in California and then nationally by raising more money for Democrats than just about anyone else. Money is why she is successful in politics. She is a multi-millionaire heir married to a multi-millionaire and she raises multi-millions for people to win elections that cost multi-millions.
You may argue, but what about Harry Reid!? He is not one of these elitists. And to an extent, he is not. But Reid is the Senator from Nevada, probably the most purely capitalistic State in the nation. He also happens to own land and gold claims valued at up to 1.39 Million Dollars* and is anti-abortion, anti-gun control and anti-gay marriage. So he’s a millionaire social conservative – hardly a strong counterbalance to the millionaire social conservative President.
But let’s keep going. In the last Congress, at least 123 of 435 Representatives and 1 in 3 Senators were millionaires.* I say at least, because some believe the number is more like 45 Senators or even higher.** Just to make the top 50 richest in Congress in 2006, one needed a personal fortune of 4.67 Million.*** Numbers are not digested yet for this Congress, but one can only assume overall wealth went up.