I'm just hoping, here, and maybe going out on a limb, but I've got my fingers crossed that the Paris Hilton affair and its place so high up in the national psyche means something. Something else. Something below the surface, beyond the video taken from the hovering helicopters and the frantic paparazzi and other baying hyenas pressing around the police car for pictures of her tear-stained cheeks. Something underlying the cheers among the MTV crowd at the recent awards show when Sarah Silverman declared that Paris was going to jail. Hilton was there in the audience and they still roared their approval. It left me wondering if she's more than just the bread with this circus.
Just what was that roar, really? Just what compelled every news anchor, reporter, writer, and camera crew to go wall-to-wall Paris? What are they really responding to, and trying to feed? Could it be that they sense that some of us in America are finally coming out, fully, in a roar to see justice served?
Sure, some over-hyped blonde party-girl had to face the music. And America set down its Ipods and Wiis and took note. And when L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca let her out very prematurely on some hangnail excuse, America roared again. Justice came remarkably swiftly. The next day, the best-dressed and most-photographed of our national scofflaws was carted back behind bars, leaving the pink party balloons and the rented patio heaters behind, alone and unused, at her Hollywood Hills home, all dressed up with no house-arrest hootenanny to embellish. And they think we can't get anything done out here in Tinseltown? Listen, that's about as swift and satisfying as justice comes anymore.
Consider the contrast on the opposite coast, which, you'd think, would be the official seat of the last word in justice. As of this writing, the criminality writhing from the many slithering tentacles of the Bush administration has hardly been addressed. I'd have to say "just barely" in the case of Scooter Libby, whose overseeing judge, Reggie Walton, has denied him freedom pending appeal. No, Scooter. Straight to the slammer for you. In six to eight weeks, that is. Which means the rest of us who'd still like to see justice served here are forced to sit and wait and hope - either for summer's end or until George W. Bush issues a pardon, whichever comes first. Even at best, if Libby is finally fitted with his new orange jumpsuit, he faces a mere two-and-a-half years, after which I'm sure he'll have converted to Christianity, written a book, and become the darling of the lucrative talk show/speaking tour circuit. Incredibly, the apologists from inside Capitol Hill to the debate stage in New Hampshire have the gall to question whether Libby's even committed any crime. Not that convictions on several counts of lying to investigators, out-n-out perjury, and obstruction of justice matter. Those charges only constitute crimes when somebody with a "D" after his or her name is involved, I guess (hmmm... that must mean Paris Hilton is a Democrat, then).
The biggest burn of all is that Libby is the one facing this. Not Dick Cheney. Somehow, even though all roads in this case have led straight to the man who puts the "vice" in Vice President, Cheney's home free. So far. Justice, anyone? I mean, let's look at this. Why shouldn't Cheney be in jail like Paris Hilton is? After all, their cases share a lot of common ground. They're both rich, light-haired, well-connected, and well-guarded, with plural drunk driving arrests on their records.
Then, there's the galling no-confidence vote against Alberto "Torture's Okay" Gonzales that was stillborn thanks to the quivering cover-up artists and excuse-makers on the republi-CON side of the aisle. These shiftless saps may not like him, may secretly agree with the Democrats and vast majorities of Americans about Gonzo's utter worthlessness, and may even think he's serving his president disgracefully. But they sure don't mind leaving him safely in that job (the same job they think he's taking straight to hell). This, mind you, from the loudly-trumpeted "Law and Order" party, that ironically may even bring us a standard-bearer who play-acted in "Law and Order," the TV series. Perhaps that's as close as they feel like coming anymore.
Yet another document dump has now been offered as well, far earlier in the week than the usual Friday afternoon stealth surge. More "loyal Bushies" insist that everything in there is on the up-n-up. We're told those 46 additional pages of emails between the White House and the Justice Department about the fishy-smelling US Attorney firings show all is just plain peachy. Nothing to see here. Move along now. A little farther down that path, there are now subpoenas being issued by Congressman John Conyers and Senator Patrick Leahy for ex-White House Counsel Harriet Miers and then-White House political affairs director Sara Taylor. I hope there's some teeth in these.
"Let me be clear: this subpoena is not a request, it is a demand on behalf of the American people for the White House to make available the documents and individuals we are requesting to help us answer the questions that remain," said Chairman Conyers."The breadcrumbs in this investigation have always led to 1600 Pennsylvania. This investigation will not end until the White House complies with the demands of this subpoena in a timely and reasonable manner so that we may get to the bottom of this."
But will this really be acted upon? We're still waiting to hear from Contradicta Rice, who is still thumbing her nose at the subpoena issued weeks ago by Congressman Henry Waxman. Should we perhaps be turning all of this over to L.A. Judge Michael T. Sauer instead? He certainly didn't waste time cutting to the chase with Paris.
My kingdom for some swift decisiveness along the Potomac! If it's true (as it seems clearly to be) that the main interest of the White House at this point is simply to run out the clock til Bush, Cheney, Karl Rove, Gonzo, and all their pals can make a clean getaway in January, 2009, it seems that the Democrats are bending over backwards to help out. Waxman has told Contradicta a hearing requiring the testimony she still refuses to give will be postponed to accommodate her busy travel schedule while he finishes questioning other people. Um... Henry? What happens if she says she's just too swamped to come back home? PLEASE? Can we just GET ON WITH IT? I can understand the wish to cross ALL t's and dot ALL i's, but with all the questions asked and the suspicions confirmed and the chicanery already unearthed and the testimony now on record, don't we have enough to proceed by now? Aren't all those t's and i's already thoroughly well-groomed? At least Dennis Kucinich and a handful of other House members think so, with the Cheney IMPEACHMENT resolution HR333. How much "getting to the bottom of it" do we have to slog through before we have finally determined that our feet have been standing securely on the bottom for a long time now? How many high crimes and misdemeanors have we already seen before we formally declare that we really do have high crimes and misdemeanors to address in full?
One of Waxman's colleagues, Rep. Jerrold Nadler has now stated that he's seen enough criminality and cover-up in the White House illegal wiretapping outrage to shame Watergate. "A "criminal conspiracy" that is "worse than Watergate," as Nadler puts it.
"Now of course they have testified that, Comey said it was classified. We're going to ask him. We may have to go into executive session. Because we can't legislate, Congress can't legislate, if they hide it from us. The President admits that on forty-five different occasions he granted authorization for wiretapping without a FISA court warrant -- what I call warrantless wiretapping, outside the law. This is a felony. This is punishable by five years in jail. The President, the Attorney General, and anybody else -- there's a prima facie case they engaged in a criminal conspiracy. And in effect what they're saying is they have a right to classify, and thus hold themselves harmless, from a criminal conspiracy.
"From my point of view, if the executive branch is contemptuous of the power of Congress, and is going to go above the law, and ignore the law, you have to use whatever weapons the Constitution gives Congress."
So we're just going to sit there and complain some more?
And TRY to get them to come in voluntarily and come clean?
And then, I suppose, it will be time to for the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments when the targets of these many investigations hem and haw, lie and delay, make more excuses, book up their time, throw more sand in your faces, and refuse to comply? Might that constitute further obstruction of justice? Far less than that did when Clinton was president.
Mr. Nadler, Mr. Waxman, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi, we freed you from the kiddie table in the back of the room last November for one reason: to change the way the game was played in Washington DC for the last six-and-a-half historically outrageous years. We wanted the war stopped. We wanted Bush's free ride stopped. We wanted the republi-CON rubber stamp stopped. We wanted the rape of the Constitution stopped. We wanted the shell game stopped. We wanted the lies, dirty tricks, cover-ups, and illegal and unethical politicizing of everything stopped. We had serious questions and we wanted them to be asked - AND answered. Accountability. Sunshine as disinfectant. Crimes exposed and the criminals dealt with.
And so far, all we've got is Paris Hilton back in the cooler. And we have audiences cheering and viewers clucking about designer just-desserts. No wonder they're obsessed. They're starving - dying of hunger to see SOME high-level wrong-doer get what's coming to him/her. It's the only true justice we've seen, and at the rate the Democrats are going, probably about all the true justice we can count on. We wanted Karl Rove, at the very least. The justice gods threw us a small bone with a high-priced wardrobe, too much partying, and a bad driving record.
Perhaps if we sent some blonde hair dye? Maybe a teacup chihuahua or two? Since those who would inherit Bush's mantle are still invoking 9/11, how 'bout "let's roll" on some of this?
WHAT is it going to take? And when will more long-overdue justice finally be served? Will Paris be a mere anomaly? Or, far more preferably, will she be symbolic of bigger things to come?
I suppose one can always hope.
And then go DO something about it.
Mary Lyon is a veteran broadcaster ad five-time Golden Mike Award winner, who has anchored, reported, and written for the Associated Press Radio Network, NBC Radio "The Source," and many Los Angeles-area stations including KRTH-FM/AM, (more...)