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The Absence Of Accountability Is Treated As License To Escalate Abuses Of Power

"Pushback" by Nancy Ohanian

"What’s worse," asked Michelle Goldberg in her NY Times column today, "making Sarah Sanders leave a restaurant, or terrorizing election officials? No One Expects Civility From Republicans."

Goldberg wrote that "The radically different way the media treats boundary-pushing on the left and on the right is about more than hypocrisy or double standards. It is, rather, an outgrowth of the crisis of democracy that shields the Republican Party from popular rebuke. There’s no point asking if the G.O.P. can control its right. It has no reason to. Democrats have just won the popular vote in the seventh out of the last eight presidential elections. In the aftermath, analysts have overwhelmingly focused on what Democrats, not Republicans, must do to broaden their appeal. Partly, this stems from knee-jerk assumptions about the authenticity of the so-called heartland. But it’s also just math-- only one of our political parties needs to win an overwhelming national majority in order to govern. Republican extremism tends to become a major story only when there are clear electoral consequences for it... [T]he effect of right-wing fanaticism on mainstream public opinion has become a non-issue. It doesn’t matter if Biden voters don’t like paranoid militants, many of them armed, menacing civil servants. The structure of our politics-- gerrymandering in the House and the rural bias in the Senate-- buffers Republicans from centrist backlash. One thing would change this dynamic overnight: a Democratic victory in the Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5. Republicans might learn that there’s a price for aligning themselves with a president trying to thwart the will of the electorate. They might regret the arrogance of Senator David Perdue, who didn’t deign to show up for a Sunday night debate with his Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff. Trumpism might come to be seen as an electoral albatross, and Republicans would have an incentive to rejoin the reality everyone else operates in."

James Fallows approached this from a different perspective, asking a question about what Biden's going to do about Trump: "As he prepares to occupy the White House, President-elect Joe Biden faces a decision rare in American history: what to do about the man who has just left office, whose personal corruption, disdain for the Constitution, and destructive mismanagement of the federal government are without precedent. Human beings crave reckoning, even the saintliest among us. Institutions based on rules and laws need systems of accountability."

Fallows wrote about two professors at Princeton, Julian Zelizer and Kevin Kruse, who argued that the most harmful response to Trump’s offenses would be for Democrats and Republicans to agree to look past them, in hopes of avoiding further partisan division. Eric Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from California, has proposed the creation of a Presidential Crimes Commission, made up of independent prosecutors. Sam Berger wrote that "there may be good-faith concerns that addressing the administration’s misconduct will be too divisive, set a bad precedent, or lead to political pushback from the administration’s supporters. But the lesson from the past four years is clear: The absence of accountability is treated as license to escalate abuses of power."

"For Biden personally, as president," wrote Fallows, "the best thing he can do for most of the needed inquiries is simply get out of the way. He has too many other things to contend with. Criminal proceedings require neither his instigation nor his help. There are two tasks, however, where his involvement is essential. One is stemming, and then beginning to reverse, the corrosion of the executive branch. The methodical destruction of the government’s competence and integrity has been nearly invisible but is one of Trump’s most consequential legacies. The second task is launching-- but not running or controlling-- independent investigations into three national catastrophes: the mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, whose toll continues to rise; border policies under which U.S. officials intentionally separated children from their parents, and in more than 600 cases have not been able to reunite them; and purposeful or negligent destruction of the norms of government, the most important being the electoral process, pushing a diverse democracy close to the breaking point... The machinery of justice will operate on its own. The matter of a pardon, suggested by some-- and a last-minute possibility by Trump himself or conceivably by an elevated Mike Pence-- is exciting as a cable-news topic, but is one Biden should ignore. The circumstances today are unlike those during the time of Watergate (when the new president, Gerald Ford, pardoned the president who had just resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon), and anyway the potential financial crimes are mainly matters of state law, beyond the reach of a presidential pardon. Prosecutors in New York have sought access to years of Trump’s financial and tax records as part of their investigation of 'possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,' in the words of a 2020 filing by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. So far, none of the prosecutions has begun-- partly because of the legal gray zone involving actions against a sitting president, and also because of Trump’s wave after wave of unsuccessful appeals. But sooner or later, the full records will fall into the hands of the authorities... Biden needs to select an attorney general who will be seen as the most principled and eminent of all his Cabinet members, and choose correspondingly strong and independent inspectors general for the executive departments. The rest is up to them."

Fallows urges Biden to frame all the investigations of Trump "in terms of the larger American narrative. The specific steps he should take are not about payback, whatever some will say. They are not even about Donald Trump as an individual. They are about the never-ending mission of forming a more perfect union. As Philip Zelikow has observed, every part of the national experience, tragic or triumphant, lives on most powerfully in story. And stories have consequences. Presidents are often most powerful as storytellers, giving citizens a way to think about themselves, their neighbors, their country, and their times. Barack Obama, who came to national attention before holding any national office, did so with his “red states and blue states” speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Donald Trump told a very different story-- of us versus them; of a hostile and cheating world beyond our borders; and of treacherous, devious interests here among us at home-- in his “American carnage” inaugural address. Biden likes to say, of the American-carnage era, “We’re better than that.” In practice, we haven’t been. In theory, we could be. Biden has a chance to tell a different story-- a story about our potential-- with the first words he utters after taking the oath of office."

Posting at yesterday, investigative historian Eric Zuesse is far from optimistic about what to expect from Biden. He already sees the kind of ugly, naked corruption that helped persuade gullible, frustrated voters that a lifelong crook like Trump could drain the swamp. "He’s not even in office," wrote Zuesse, "and he has already surrounded himself, as the incoming President, with individuals who derive their wealth from (and will be serving) America’s top defense contractors and Wall Street. The likelihood that these Government officials will be biting the hands that feed them is approximately zero. Great investigative journalists have already exposed how corrupt they are. For that to be the case so early (even before taking office) is remarkable, and only a summary of those reports will be provided here, with links to them, all of which reports are themselves linking to the incriminating evidence, so that everything can easily be tracked back to the documentation by the reader here, even before there are any ‘Special Prosecutors’ (as if those were serving anyone other than the opposite Party’s political campaigns, and, ultimately, the opposite Party’s billionaires)."

Back on 26 January 2020, I had headlined “Joe Biden Is as Corrupt as They Come” and documented the reality of this, but America’s mainstream media were hiding that fact so as to decrease the likelihood that the only Democratic Party Presidential candidate whom no billionaire supported, Bernie Sanders, might win the nomination. Perhaps now that it’s too late, even those ‘news’ organizations (such as CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, New York Times, Washington Post, PBS, and NPR) will start reporting the fact of Biden’s corruptness. Where billionaires control all of the mainstream media, there is no democracy — it’s not even possible, in such a country.
As far back as 25 October 2019, I had headlined “Biden Backer — Former Lockheed Leader — Convinces Joe Biden to Sell-Out”, and reported that Bernard Schwartz, a former Vice Chairman and top investor in Lockheed Martin (which is by far the largest seller to the U.S. Government, and also the largest seller to most of America’s allied Governments), is one of Joe Biden’s top donors. CNN headlined, on October 24th, “Biden allies intensify push for super PAC after lackluster fundraising quarter”, and reported that, “Bernard Schwartz, a private investor and donor to the former vice president’s campaign, said he spoke with Biden within the last two weeks and encouraged him to do just that.” It’s not for nothing that throughout Biden’s long Senate career, he has voted in favor of every U.S. invasion that has been placed before the U.S. Senate.
Near the end of the Democratic Party’s primaries, on 16 March 2020, CNBC headlined “Megadonors pull plug on plan for anti-Sanders super PAC as Biden racks up wins”, and reported that Bernard Schwartz had become persuaded by other billionaires that, by this time, “Biden could handle Sanders on his own.” They had done their job; they would therefore control the U.S. Government regardless of which Party’s nominee would head it.
Biden-- like Trump, and like Obama and Bush and Clinton before him-- doesn’t represent the American people. He represents his mega-donors. And he is staffing his Administration accordingly. He repays favors: he delivers the services that they buy from him. This is today’s America. And that is the way it functions.


Dec 10, 2020

Let me add another voice, one which SHOULD be heard here:

first paragraph:

Liberals who express dismay, or more bizarrely a fevered hope, about the corporatists and imperialists selected to fill the positions in the Biden administration are the court jesters of our political burlesque. They long ago sold their soul and abandoned their most basic principles to line up behind a bankrupt Democratic Party. They chant, with every election cycle, the mantra of the least worst and sit placidly on the sidelines as a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama and the Democratic Party leadership betray every issue they claim to support.


Dec 10, 2020

sheepdoggery masquerading as circumspection?

"the lesson from the past four years is clear: The absence of accountability is treated as license to escalate abuses of power."

It's actually the past 52 years. Ever since LBJ refused to prosecute nixon for treason at the Paris peace talks. The absence of accountability for trump isn't new. It's at the end (so far) of a very long bipartisan practice of never doing jack about the evil done before.

"Where billionaires control all of the mainstream media, there is no democracy — it’s not even possible, in such a country."

In the midst of doing your 'biden is shit' retrospective, a freudian slip? You omitted other money, like corporations. Basically when big money contr…

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