Friday, January 27, 2006


In perpetrating the Watergate affair, Richard Nixon inadvertently performed his greatest service to his country. Thanks to Nixon, the people received an invaluable education concerning their constitutional rights, the criminal justice system, the importance of a free press, and the hypocrisy of many of their leaders. During the Nixon Administration, Congress began to reassert its authority after a long period of dormancy, and the dangerous growth in presidential power was at last arrested. At the very end of his Presidency; Nixon fulfilled his promise to unite the country as never before - with Americans of every political persuasion joining forces to demand his impeachment or resignation.

It is hard to decide which is more amazing in Nixon's handling of Watergate - the President's immorality or his incompetence. Nixon will not only be remembered as the greatest liar in American history, he may also be remembered as the most inept administrator. The antics of Nixon and his palace guard would be simply laughable except that they came so close to achieving their objectives. His efforts to subvert the rights of citizens, spy on his opponents, smear his "enemies," intimidate the press, defy the courts, diminish Congress, and manipulate the FBI, CIA, and IRS all proved - at least partially - temporarily sucessful. As historian Henry Steele Commager put it: "Other things being equal, we haven't had a bad President before now. Mr. Nixon is the 1st dangerous and wicked President."

4 The People's Almanac, David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace; page 327; published 1974

As Peter Viereck suggested, fascism, if it ever came to America, might take the form of transtolerant nativism, with patriots of all races and religions joining together in attacking the designated hate objects of the regime: intellectuals, homosexuals, political heretics. The racial and theological elements of the new white nativism would be played down, in favor of a transethnic and possibly transracial Americanism defined by narrow political, moral and aesthetic conformity. [...]


An American dictatorship would clothe itself in constitutional and legal forms; it would cultivate an aura of non-partisan technocracy and business expertise, not a feverish cult of the genius-leader and the masses. An American Fuehrer would not rant and strut, but crack jokes and adopt the relaxed, ironic, "cool" style of a television host.

4 The Next American Nation, by Michael Lind; page 251; published by The Free Press 1995

House of Bu$h:
In addition to rewarding old loyalists, dynasties are known - the Stuarts and their retainers somewhat, the Bourbons and their retainers more stereotypically - for forgetting no slight and savoring revenge. [...]


Indeed, the Machiavellian Bush role in the eliminations of Speaker Gingrich and Senator Lott - both replaced with easygoing, collaborative successors - underscored yet another frequent restoration policy: to rebuild executive (royal) perogative and influence at the expense of the legislative branch. Well indexed in both Stuart and Bourbon histories, perogative expresses itself less as a definable program than as a presumption of entitlement, a hallmark of successful reassertion. New assumptions of authority in war making and secrecy and a bent for unilateralism have been to the George W. Bush dynastic presidency what executive privilege and impoundment were to the imperial presidency portrayed by Arthur Schlesinger in 1974.

4 American Dynasty; Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush by Kevin Phillips; page 94; published 2004

Restoration of the Imperial Presidency:
What the Supreme Court has placed on its agenda, in short, is the Imperial Presidency -- that is, the Presidency in which the Executive largely acts alone, pushing the Constitution to the limits and beyond. And how the Justices deal with this overwhelmingly important topic could affect the reelection prospects of the Bush presidency, for, as David Savage notes, at least four of the five rulings are anticipated to be handed down during the summer of 2004 -- right in the middle of the presidential campaign.

The High Court and Nixon's Imperial Presidency

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s The Imperial Presidency gave the term its currency. He traces its growth from George Washington to Richard Nixon, showing how a presidency never contemplated by the founders has evolved. As a basis for their authority, presidents typically cited their role as commander-in-chief -- an undefined constitutional term -- and "inherited powers" other presidents had used before them.

After Nixon pushed the presidential powers even further than past presidents had, both the Congress and Supreme Court acted to curtail his activities. In the name of protecting national security, Nixon wanted to be able to wiretap without the approval of a judge. The authority for this power? Before the Court of Appeals, Nixon relied on a vague "historical power of the sovereign to preserve itself" and "the inherent power of the President to safeguard the security of the nation."


In short, at the zenith of the Imperial Presidency era, the Supreme Court consistently ruled in such a way as to pull the presidency back into Constitutional balance with the other branches. Its rulings were wise, for the alternative would have been to allow presidential power to burgeon, at the expense of the balance of power with the Legislative and Judicial branches.

Bush's Imperial Presidency?

Not inaccurately, the Bush presidency has been called imperial, in Schlesinger's sense. The evidence? Its "preemptive" and "preventive" military policy, its contentions that it can go to war regardless of whether Congress approves, its policies calling for American world domination, and its unprecedented blending of national security policy and domestic law enforcement. In my view, these policies and positions not only easily establish the Bush presidency as imperial, they also rank it beyond anything in the annals of the modern American presidency. This may be the most imperial Presidency our history has yet seen.

I've spoken with Arthur Schlesinger about it -- asking him if he thought the Bush presidency fit his description of an imperial presidency. In response, he chuckled, and said, "I'd certainly say this is an imperial presidency."

4 The U.S. Supreme Court and The Imperial Presidency
How President Bush Is Testing the Limits of His Presidential Powers
Friday, Jan. 16, 2004

Read in full here: Findlaw
Or here: Common Dreams.org


Thursday, January 26, 2006

enfant terrible 

tete-a-tete interlude!:

The elitist gated community fortifications of the Bourbon Media courtyard were recently breached and the WaPo Bon-Bons were interrupted in the middle of reciting florid love poems to the GOP. There was a great fluster of hubbub and pitapat and foam and boil from the assembled strumpet meretrix and the palace guard was summoned and the ruffian mob were heaved back over the walls. Order was restored to the perfumed enclave and the tongue swallowing and bustle pinching and general altogether high society chirping on behalf of obdurate power and corruption and entrenched privilege carried on as ordained.

What will we tell the little bon-bons!


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Frustration Thread 

1972 :
Somehow the Watergate and other disclosures failed to rub off on the Nixon administration in its reelection drive. The President studiously ignored McGovern's remarks alleging venality --the Senator [McGovern] charged that the administration was "the most corrupt in history" -- and kept the news media at a distance, thus preventing questioning, as he appeared at "non-political" occasions against such television backdrops as the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall. At formal dinners newsmen were privileged to listen to him in another room, on closed-circuit television.

McGovern found himself in effect campaigning against himself, defending himself against previous statements or positions, while Nixon, who had made truly major reversals in his thinking, was accepted as a pragmatist. McGovern's principal issue, the Vietnam War, was defused by Kissinger's negotiations with the North Vietnamese and the continuing expectation of a cease-fire.

Since the President was holding himself above politics, the news media turned their camera eyes on McGovern and the opposition to him within his own party. Sizable blocs of Democratic voters were in the process of defection from the "wild radicals" in control; John Connally, the former Governor of Texas and former Secretary of the Treasury in the Republican administration, had formed "Democrats for Nixon"; organized labor was split as the result of George Meany's professed "neutrality," and various elements and personalities were in constant conflict behind the scenes of McGovern's campaign apparatus. Such news coverage, with its thoroughly negative yield for McGovern, amounted to a partiality previously unknown in modern political campaigns. On the nation's editorial pages, moreover, Nixon was supported by 753 or the 1,054 daily newspapers, representing 77.4 percent of the total circulation, and McGovern by only 56 dailies with a mere 7.7 percent of the circulation.

This overwhelming press support was given despite the Nixon administration's patent threat to the First Amendment,...

[The Wound Within; America in the Vietnam Years 1945-1974, by Alexander Kendrick; page 373; published 1974]

Sounds too familiar doesn't it.

Please stand by. (As far as I know the Blogger outage is now over.)


Monday, January 23, 2006

Cult of the Unitary Executive 

Excerpt: Alexander Kendrick, The Wound Within; America in the Vietnam Years 1945-1974 pages 409-410 (Little, Brown and Co. 1974)
Constitutional interpretation aside - and the original intention was certainly not the installation of a President-king - the remedies for unaccountable and unshared power, as exposed by Vietnam and Watergate, would seem self-evident. They suggest constraint through statutory limitations on surveillance and secrecy, more congressional overseership of quasi-independent agencies, and greater public answerability by Executive personnel. [...]


[...] The very fact that Watergate could be brought to book, it was said, demonstrated that despite its weaknesses the "System" had "worked." But the escape from what might have happened, and what Americans not very long ago believed "can't happen here," had been a narrow one. The men who "almost stole America" had done so without excessive hindrance. A few judges, a few undaunted reporters and editors, some conscientious civil servants, a minority of congressmen, a handful of private citizens like those of Common Cause and Nader's Raiders, were the geese on Capitoline Hill who had awakened the garrison.

What some, more radical interpreters saw as a putsch, a conspiratorial attempt to take total control of a government - with secret police methods, illegal use of governmental agencies, extortion of funds, invocation of national security, defiance of legislature and courts, and congenial falsehood - had failed also because of the Nixon administration's own incompetence, pettiness and hollowness. But in this view the formula for American fascism had been devised; it could happen here.

"Nixonland is a land of slander and scare, of lay innuendo, of a poison pen and the anonymous telephone call, and hustling, pushing, and shoving - the land of smash and grab and anything to win." ~ Adlai E. Stevenson, 1952

"Bu$hCountry is a land of slander and scare, of lay innuendo, of a poison pen and the anonymous telephone call, and hustling, pushing, and shoving - the land of smash and grab and anything to win." ~ Sound Familiar?, 2006


Sunday, January 22, 2006

thrilling storm thread 

freakish snowstorm to interupt global warming efforts. Yeah, sure. we'll see. wait-n-see what develops...

still waiting for the approaching whiteout. nothing so far. but i have reason (intelligence information) which leads me to suspect it's out there - looming in the dark. by daylight everything will have changed. hooked up the sled dogs (see photo above) just in case i have to journey in to town for a dirty magazine and a six pack of snapple. i'm hoping for a big one. you know what i mean. perhaps 3-4 feet of heavy wet snow. just like the storms we used to have back in the late 20th century. then, tomorrow, i'll construct 20 or 30 terror snowmen in my backyard and stalk them with my silent snow angel of death 40-cal bunker buster paintball blowgun. take that glazed ice fascist! swoosh-thwack! and i'll pounce from atop a snow drift and stab the coal-black dead-eyed bastard in the neck with a gator2 guthook knife. or snipe at the buggers from behind a pine tree with my replica 1858 walnut stock 44 caliber cattleman's carbine.

what else is there to do on a snow day?


corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?