Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The day democracy died

I suppose you can't really pin the death of our form of democratic governance on any one event, but Charles marks the anniversary of Iran-Contra with a short history lesson on the Reagan era debacle that was certainly one of the seminal moments. Even then, it was the media who were the gatekeepers for the cover-up.

The press was next to useless. (Mark Hertsgaard's On Bended Knee is the essential text here.) Hell, the scandal was uncovered by two guys in Beirut with a mimeograph machine. And while there was some excellent work done in spots by the elite American press, the general tone was that the scandal was "too complex" for the country to follow, which led to its having "dragged on too long" and to the eventual dissipation of its political force. (This was a trial run for the infantilization of political self-government, by which the self-governing public is treated as though it were made of candyglass. The masterwork in this regard was the haste to settle the "dangerous uncertainity" surrounding the 2000 presidential election, when almost every poll indicated that the country was perfectly willing to live through a constitutional crisis so long as the crisis followed the Constitution.) This was, of course, nonsense. The Whitewater scandal was insanely complex, largely because there was virtually nothing to the damned thing, and that dragged on all the way to an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Compared to a real-estate scam masterminded by crooks and loons in Arkansas that somehow led to hearings on what the president did with his pee-pee, Iran-Contra was a straightforward constitutional B&E. The Reagan people wanted to fight a war in Central America. Congress did its constitutional duty and shut off the money. The administration then broke the law by arranging private funding for its pet war. One of the ways it did that was to sell military hardware to the government of Iran, which sponsored not only terrorism, but also the kidnapping of various American citizens abroad. All of this was in service to a private foreign policy, devoid of checks and balances, and based on a fundamental contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law.
A must read post, especially for those who weren't adults when this happened. It's a short, yet comprehensibe summary that lends important historical context to where we are today.

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Blogger merlallen said...

Ollie North should still be breaking rocks in Leavenworth. Instead, he's a right wing hero.

4:09:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Amen to that Merlallen.

9:05:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Also half of those criminals ended up in the GWBush administration.

9:06:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

"... that somehow led to hearings on what the president did with his pee-pee"

That is a creative way to trivialize sexual harassment of employees.

5:47:00 PM  
Blogger merlallen said...

Except that President Clinton didn't sexually harass anyone. But, good try John.

6:36:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thanks merlallen. BTW John, who do you want to win the GOP nomination?

7:18:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

There's something malignant about such comments. You can't ascribe it or write it off to anything as simple as ignorance or stupidity and apparently you can't eradicate the disease by vaccinating the sick with truth injections.

Yes, surely Monica, who to this day says she's madly in love with him was a victim and the president used that Jedi mind trick to cause her to hoist up her skirts and flash her thong and offer to earn, as she bragged to her friends, her "presidential knee pads."

No, conservative, since the late 20th century means delusional and irrational hatred of decency, truth and indeed, reality itself.

I read this gibbering idiocy and wonder when the rabbit appears and says "that's all folks," but of course it never ends and never will -- until of course our experiment in democracy ends and the brain-eating zombies roam the streets searching for food. The Republicans will be safe of course - for obvious reasons.

9:02:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Merlallen, Libby and Fogg, I thought this was to obvious to explain but maybe not: the complainant was not Monica.

Bill Clinton was in fact sued for sexual harassment. At trial, it was alleged that he summoned an employee to his hotel room, dropped trou, and said "kiss it." That is what was trivialized by the "what the President did with his pee-pee" line.

I hope that that is not too confusing for you.

10:03:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

And which "employee" would that be John. Let me acquaint you with the legal term, innocent until proven guilty. Don't recall him being convicted of sexual harassment. And perhaps you can point me to a link where you're expressing this same great concern about Herman Cain. Or John McCain's dumping his injured wife for Cindy. Or Newt's many infidelities. I'm sure you must b equally concerned about women's rights, not matter who the alleged perps are?

8:17:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"At trial, it was alleged"

Oh for Christ's sake, it was alleged that he swindled people in a deal he lost money on, murdered Vince Foster, was a drug dealer (along with the Queen of England) and every attempt was made to pin some analog of everything Nixon had been accused of.

If you want to believe that the GOP purchasing a new Mercedes for this "victim," paid for plastic surgery amongst other expensive perks, had nothing to do with her testimony, it's fine. If you want to believe she was punished for not complying, that's fine too, even though she couldn't demonstrate any evidence of any sort for any of the charges. If you want to believe Clinton would proposition a woman with braces on her teeth for oral sex, go ahead, but don't pretend your party politics hasn't made a fool out of you. For my part, I'll consider the source and refrain from being overly insulted by your condescending attempt to pass off this steaming pile of ripe horseshit as chocolate mouse.

1:19:00 PM  

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