Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cherche la slime

There is a broad and thick trail of slime following Mr. Cheney out of Washington and indeed if we could follow that trail, history could actually reflect what happened over the last 8 years, but sadly, Cheney seems to have succeeded in establishing a separate agency, outside the executive branch but funded by it, that is as invisible, yet as massive as the dark matter physicists are in love with these days. In short, the evidence that might foster indictments has disappeared, some reported destroyed. Of what remains, only that which Cheney allows to be viewed by posterity will be released. Cheney and Bush may have left behind a Temple of History as filled with booby traps, poison arrows, rolling boulders and pits of quicksand that no future historian, with or without fedora and bullwhip can penetrate.

District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a US District Judge often sympathetic to the legal arguments of the junta, has written a 63-page opinion stating that:
"Congress drastically limited the scope of outside inquiries related to the vice president's handling of his own records during his term in office."
In other words, the National Archive will no longer be able to determine what's important to keep of the records not yet shredded or destroyed. Dick Cheney's legacy will be what he wants it to be, not what it is, and in the language of Tense Logic: pGPp “What is, will always have been.”


  1. Yes indeed. I used to say that it's possible to find out "what really happened" ten years after anything could reasonably be done about it, but recent years make me doubt that proposition. The broad outlines of policies and events are known, but I suppose many of the details are permanently lost.

  2. The attempt to create favorable history, both sacred and banal, isn't new. It's sad that in what's supposed to be an "information age" information can still be altered, deleted and invented to suit a nefarious purpose.

    I don't remember which wag said about the entertainer, Dinah Shore, I think it was, "I remember her before she was a virgin." Same principle here, I think.

    Someone remembers the Deeds of this administration though, and we can hope.

  3. Yes, I think one thing that's becoming painfully clear is high-level approval of torture. I don't want Obama to get bogged down in his predecessor's tenure, but it seems like there ought to be at least some response to the worst things that were done in all our names. At least an official censure, a full acknowledgment that what was done is disgraceful and ought never be done again, no matter what.

  4. Dino - I think it is about more than Obama getting bogged down. I think it's great that he's all about change & moving forward, but we can NOT move forward as a country unless justice is served. Criminal acts - if overlooked - do NOT move us forward. Simple acknowledgement is not enough. That sends a message to generations to come that presidents & VICE presidents can change laws & principles to suit themselves. The legacy of Bush & Cheney will haunt us if we get so caught up in Obama euphoria that we sweep our country's ills under the rug - only to have them reinvented like a bad wheel generations later.

    This country allowed those two into office - one way or the other - as a society we have a responsibility to do our best to make it "right."

    There was a wonderful interview last night on Maddow's show with a poli-sci prof from Georgetown - reminding us that according to much of the world - Bush & Cheney are guilty of war crimes etc. Yes - all those pesky international treaties that we Americans have always thought ourselves too much above to bother to sign.

    According to this Georgetown prof - those two could technically be arrested in certain parts of the world. (I smiled in wry amusement at the thought.) He & Rachel M. also surmised that our country could be said to be harboring criminals if we fail to act.

    These are serious things to consider if we truly, TRULY want to repair the damage done at home & abroad by these two. How can we ever again complain about the torture etc practices of other regimes when we - a democracy for god's sake - have allowed such things to go by without a reckoning? And yes - WE allowed - we can not hide behind Bush & Cheney. This country put them into office & all the others in Washington who let these things go on. A democracy means being responsible for whom we elect - even with the court's help.

  5. Squid, what you say makes perfect sense. I don't know that our system will be up to full war-crimes prosecutions, though; it's possible some gov. officers will face prosecution, but probably not at the very highest levels. My idea was that at the least, we can't just sweep this under the rug as if nothing happened. The previous administration made people afraid of their own elected leaders -- something a democratic people shouldn't easily forgive or forget. And I don't buy the notion, of course, that any of the acts committed "kept us safe," as the apologists would have it.

  6. I don't see what we can do about any possible war crimes committed by the Bush Administration. In a way my beloved Democratic Party was complicit by not being the loyal opposition. For political reasons Congress allowed the rush to war in Iraq. They caved on all the Troop funding votes. They pretty much allowed Bush to do as he pleased. We had Dems on all the committees. Certainly they could have blown the whistle on abuses of human rights. We had plenty of Senators and Congressmen with safe seats. Murtha's the only one that really spoke up. I don't like it. But unless those in Congress that took the politically expedient route in dealing with Bush want to stand before the judge with him, they robably need to just do a good job making sure what happened the last eight years doesn't happen again.

  7. I agree - we are not up to a war crimes tribunal - that would require too much of an ideological shift. And I do not mean to sound like I am out for blood - but as an American I have always been EXTREMELY troubled by our refusal to sign certain international treaties that almost all of our allies have signed. It is quite simply arrogant - always has been - & I can not help but think that this arrogance of ours set the stage, if you will, for the unbelievable arrogance of George & Dick. That is their legacy to us. They cynically assumed they could get away with it - we need to make sure they don't - to the best of our ability. Though I am not naive about our ability to find any evidence not shredded by his royal highness Cheney.

    This has been gnawing at me all day - I confess - as Obama euphoria reigned. I like & respect him & hope great things for him. But our culture has this continual habit of hero-worshipping with blind eyes turned. I do not mean blind eyes turned from Obama. No. I mean blind eyes turned from hard core realities. Putting the poor man on a pedestal is dangerous because we Americans also have a habit of ruthlessly tearing down our heroes when they fail us.

    Twice - approximately half of this country voted for Bush & Cheney & only 53% or so voted for Obama. There are still many forces in our midst who will rear their ugly heads again if we are not mindful about sending the message that lessons have been learned & will NOT be tolerated again.

    I hate to sound pessimistic - but I am trying to sound realistic, I guess, on a day filled with dreamy-eyed idealism.

    OK - I am done speech making for the day Dino!

  8. Truth - you are exactly right about how pervasive the problem was & therefore is. That's what I meant in an earlier comment about the need for the whole country to take responsibility for this. Is it possible? Probable? I confess I don't want to answer my own questions for fear of being cynical.

    BUT - I think that is why I am a bit cautious about Obama euphoria. Our problems of recent years run very deep ideologically. We Americans have never been fond of self-analysis. We much prefer the chasing of dreams which make us feel better & don;t require deep thought.

    Oh my - I am really sounding grumpy. Sorry dear fellow Zoners. But these are quite seriously my fears & apprehensions.

  9. I was almost half expecting a flurry of last minute blanket pardons from the outgoing president that would exonerate all administration officials from future prosecution.

    Had those pardons been issued, they would have amounted to a tacit admission of guilt with respect to torture, illegal surveillance, extreme rendition, and other crimes against humanity. The best hope of the old guard is for the specter of prosecution to fall into a black hole of “move-forward- don’t-look-behind.” And I agree with the assessment of Truth 101: The Dems are complicit.

    Our new president faces an unenviable dilemma. On one hand, to confirm the rule of law and the values of civilization, these crimes must be prosecuted. Any failure thereof would embolden future officials to repeat the same offenses.

    On the other hand, our president has inherited a bucketful of problems requiring bipartisan support. Starting an investigation would trigger political conflict when the moment requires a more pragmatic hand.

    Obama is too practical to sacrifice his agenda to partisan conflict at his time. Perhaps later in his administration, we may see action on crimes against humanity, but not before there has been demonstrable progress on urgent issues. That would be my guess.

  10. And.......that is why those two are gonna get away with all they have done. Americans have very short memories when they don't want to face difficult truths. In other words - yes - other matters will be attended to first - & then - in time - all will be forgotten - Bush & Cheney are counting on it - swept under the rug - to much bother - was it really that bad? really? ....... & mistakes will be repeated by generations to come.

  11. Squid, according to my recollection, Obama's remarks were ambiguous. Yes, there must be respect for law. Yes, change means moving forward, not looking backwards. How he navigates between these two ... it will be interesting to see how events unfold. What I offered above was merely an analysis of the political pitfalls, not a personal preference. Overall, Obama is intelligent and principled. Lets wait and see what transpires.

  12. No well-ordered republic should ever cancel the crimes of its citizens by their merits; but, having established rewards for good actions & penalties for evil ones, & having rewarded a citizen for good conduct who afterward commits a wrong, it should chastise him for that wrong without regard to his previous merits. A state that observes this principle will long enjoy its liberty; but if it does otherwise, it will speedily come to ruin.

    (Niccolo Machiavelli)

  13. "And I don't buy the notion, of course, that any of the acts committed "kept us safe," as the apologists would have it."

    I thought I heard President Obama saying something about not sacrificing our principles for safety - at least I hope I did. I'm sure nothing gave Osama more joy than seeing us cower and cringe and cry and surrender our personal liberty.

  14. I just have one simple question, "Why would anyone want to be President of the United States now?"

    What a mess....

    But yet 2 million folks braved the cold to be at this inauguration and millions more viewed this inauguration around the world...

    Most likely more people watched this one event then have watched any other event in the history of television.

    Obviously the interest was not because of our military strength but rather because of what this country represents to so many around the world.

    It is our ideals and our beliefs that garner us our respect and I hope we have once again found our way back to the country and people we once were.

    That would truly be CHANGE.


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