Friday, January 16, 2009

Good And Evil

The theme in last night's farewell address seems appropriate. Good and evil certainly defines the occupied White House. Good and awful would aptly describe the state of this country, as well.

I was delighted that Jane Hamsher, this morning on Washington Journal at CSpan, chose exactly the part of the speech to comment on that also had struck me. The cretin in chief enjoined against murdering people for ideology, behavior he described as being always wrong; and as she commented, he should apply that to his own actions.

It is not enough, though, just to comment on how poorly the nation has been served. This nation has been subjected to criminal misconduct, and we have to act. This morning Dr. Paul Krugman says what we all seem to be concluding; if there is no prosecution for crimes, there is no law.

Now, it’s true that a serious investigation of Bush-era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, both for those who abused power and those who acted as their enablers or apologists. And these people have a lot of friends. But the price of protecting their comfort would be high: If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we’ll guarantee that they will happen again.

Meanwhile, about Mr. Obama: while it’s probably in his short-term political interests to forgive and forget, next week he’s going to swear to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That’s not a conditional oath to be honored only when it’s convenient.

And to protect and defend the Constitution, a president must do more than obey the Constitution himself; he must hold those who violate the Constitution accountable. So Mr. Obama should reconsider his apparent decision to let the previous administration get away with crime. Consequences aside, that’s not a decision he has the right to make.

As a Constitutional scholar, President-elect Obama has learned about the law. Now hopefully he will be able to re-institute the mechanics necessary to carry it out. As I've noticed, without a DOJ, there is no one to carry out the Rule of Law. This administration has disabled it, and much groundwork will be necessary to get it back functioning again.

In the DOJ, operatives have exhibited rank racism in addition to political favoritism. TPMMuckraker reported yesterday:
So you'll remember that on Tuesday, a DOJ report found that John Tanner, the former chief of the department's voting rights section, had told a colleague over email in 2004 that he liked his coffee "Mary Frances Berry style -- black and bitter." Berry, an African-American, was at the time the chair of the US Commission on Civil Rights.

Now Tanner is trying to make amends. Moments ago he forwarded to TPMmuckraker a letter of apology he sent to Berry dated January 13.

Tanner -- who has a history of questionable racial remarks and appears still to be working on voting issues on DOJ's payroll -- explains that he only used the phrase because he had recently heard an African-American customer at a coffee shop order coffee "black and sweet -- like me."

Still, he says, it was "a very poor choice of words," "flippant" and "ill-considered."

Then -- in kind of a stretch -- he further explains: "The term bitter, of course, meant no sugar in the coffee, and was not meant as a reflection on you or your attitude towards a challenging situation."

And Tanner adds: "I am well aware of your many significant contributions to our country's racial equality and justice."

The object of their slurs, Ms. Berry, is active this morning, as well, with an op-ed in the NYT calling for President-elect Obama to ditch the dysfunctional Commission on Civil Rights and put together an organ that actually promotes civil rights for all, including gays.

Four more days. Hopefully, not enough time left for the good and evil executive branch to do much more damage

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Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I've been concerned that PE Obama would not pursue prosecution of people in the DoJ and the WH who broke the law.

Perhaps if there is a grass roots support for going forward with hearings on the crimes committed during GWB's administration, Obama will be compelled to follow through.

Maybe that's how he wants it to happen?

12:05 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

I have thought he was putting it into the DOJ, myself. First we have to get it back inside the constitution, and functional. Without that, we have no rule of law.

12:09 PM  

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