Archive for category Richard Nixon
He ‘s been dead since 1997, but he’s even funnier then Donald Trump. His campaign started in 1968, and is still going on as far as I’m concerned. He has got to be a part of the reason “The Smothers Brothers” popular show was cancelled by Nixon. And, yes, It was canceled by Nixon, not CBS.
I was thinking we needed some actual political humor, instead of racism.
Last night, I caught a show on CSpan that showed a series of clips from the international news on the RNC. Watching the international reporting got me re-examining both McCain’s choice of Palin and McCain’s own speech.
First, I think it’s fair to say that McCain’s VP choice is the single most cynical political move in American politics in decades. It puts the first George Bush’s choice of Dan Quayle to shame. Palin’s choice serves demonstrates nothing more than a venal attempt to please the Republican base, to appeal to women on the basis of “she’s a woman, so if you are a woman you should vote for her,” and to engage in a new version of the Republican politics of resentment. McCain’s choice was so deeply cynical, so entirely and utterly devoid of anything other than the bit of political traction it could give him that we do not have to treat it, or him, as anything other than a cheap hack. John McCain is truly Nixons heir.
That the McCain campaign has done everything in their power to keep Palin away from the media demonstrates something else – Palin is a fundamentally, deeply unseriousness politician.
Look at it this way: Anyone who reads OneUtah – and I include even our most fundamentally conservative readers – finding him or herself in the position Sarah Palin was in, would have said, “This is the most important job interview I will ever have for the most important job I am likely to ever hold. I will give a speech equal to the moment. I will demonstrate that I am worthy of holding the job – I want to prove that I am a person seriousness enough for this important job. I want to demonstrate a mastery of the important matters, that I have given serious thought to the issues facing the nation and when I am done, I will have nailed my job interview.” Palin seems to have treated public office as her due – a place in which her needs, wishes and agenda should be paramount and she has treated resistance to that as unthinkably wrong – and a firing offense. Unlike John McCain who at least has a real and demonstrated history of public service, Palin seems not to consider public office as a position of trust.
Palin delivered a speech full if snide, sniping personal attacks, jokes, and mockery. The speech was prepared before McCain had chosen her, you might object. Doesn’t that make her seem even less substantial? Okay, I’m the Veep nominee and I’m not going to say, “If I have to, I will write my own speech. This is the most important speech of my life and it’s going to come from my heart; I will deliver a speech that Americans will celebrate for hundreds of years. I will follow in the footsteps of Seneca Falls and Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth. I will not deliver a canned speech”? Sarah Palin just says, “Okee dokee, let me practice this speech your wrote weeks ago.”
Palin was offered an historic moment and treated it as a joke. Here you are – giving what will be the most important speech you have ever delivered – and you have a choice: Treat it as an historic moment, one filled with gravitas, an opportunity to speak to the ages or treat is as a moment to delivery snippy and snide attacks on a current political opponent. Do you rise to the occassion or not?
Sarah Palin chose not to rise to the occassion. If for no other reason, that demonstrates that Sarah Palin is manifestly unsuited to be Vice President.
Consistency. If there’s one thing Republicans have going for them, it’s consistency. In fact, no other organization that I’m aware of, whether it be a sports team, a university, a government bureau or a business can point to a track record of such astonishing consistency. For a hundred years now, the Republicans have unfailingly been electing stupid men to high office. I won’t say that these men are the stupidest you could find–one could with concerted effort, I’m sure, find denser, slower, BETTER candidates. But considering that the party has only a year or so each election cycle to find their man, the results are impressive.
I hadn’t appreciated the truly breathtaking nature of this consistency until this morning when it occurred to me to list all of the Republican presidents back as far as the first unquestionably competent holder of the office. This list says more than I ever could in praise of Republican consistency, so here it is in all of its exceptional mediocrity.
George W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
William Howard Taft
Theodore Roosevelt (the first competent one of the bunch)
Well and truly does Mitt Romney call for the elimination of eastern elites. In his heart, Mitt knows what it means to be a Republican, a true Republican, even if he can see the Republican promised land only from afar off, like Moses on Mt. Nebo. So, frankly, does John McCain, who passed on Mitt as a running mate, because frankly he has too high an IQ to be considered for high office. It’s sad, really, to see a man of Mitt’s stature knocking at the gate of a country club he can never enter. McCain’s own status would be as questionable as Mitt’s were it not for the fact that he shows all the signs of incipient senility, insuring that if he is elected the country will continue to be led by someone who is certifiably incapable of finding his ass with both hands.
Now, some will say that the Republican record isn’t in fact all that sterling. Does Dwight Eisenhower, for example, really belong in this distinguished company? Point conceded. Dwight did have a momentary lapse into greatness when he warned us about the military-industrial-scientific complex. Thankfully for the Republican record, no one took him seriously, and he himself didn’t have the lapse until he was just about to leave office, so we might fairly not even count the highly uncharacteristic moment of greatness.
Richard Nixon too might be debated. Far from having an unblemished record of nearly 100 years of thumb-sucking incompetence to their credit, the Republicans might only be able to claim a mere 35, which any party, even the Democratic, might, with luck, be able to match. But no, one has only to consider Watergate to feel confident in including Tricky Dick (not to be confused with his modern namesake, who is in fact demonically clever). Never in history has there been such a colossally, presidentially incompetent crook.
Nor is breathtaking individual executive incompetence the Republicans’ only claim to fame. Consider what these men have accomplished! George W. Bush has given us a $3 trillion war, a true luxury, Rolls-Royce-level war in the Middle East, the best war that American money could buy. And this war may yet give little George the chance to start a big world war. Not since Adolf Hitler has a stupid man done so much with so little and so little with so much. In the interest of protecting American family values, George has amassed a record national debt that will insure that our children aren’t tempted into vice by excessive discretionary income. George has insured that the world will never again face an ice age. And, last but not least, George Jr. has left us with a true Republican-size recession, just as his daddy did.
Some men, like George Jr., are born to great stupidity. Others, like his daddy, have it thrust upon them. In the case of George Sr. we’re dealing with a man, who, but for his presidency, might have entered the history books as an average, level-headed sort of CIA spook. Instead, destiny, in the figure of one of history’s truly astonishing dunces, Ronald Reagan, reached out and elevated him to the level of his own incompetence–the thing that all men most desire. Rising to the occasion, George Sr. gave us the first war in the Gulf and a modest-size recession.
Ronald Reagan’s accomplishments are too numerous to mention. When I first heard that this B movie star was running for president, I laughed out loud. “Unelectable,” I said. “Americans don’t have the balls to elect someone that stupid.” Well, I admit it now with shame, I was wrong. And I’ve since learned a thing or two about just how bold we Americans are in charting unknown territory. In 1980, though, we were just beginning to explore the jungle of deep incompetence that creatures such as Ronald Reagan call home. Ronald’s chief accomplishment was that he made being stupid respectable, something that Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge together over eight years couldn’t accomplish. Ronald even won over smart (or at least articulate) Republicans like George F. Will and Bill Buckley. Ronald had stupid people across America saying, “You know, he makes me think that anyone can be president,” and they meant it. They’re saying the same thing today in the aftermath of Sarah Palin. Ordinary housewives here in West Jordan and Ogden have been heard to say that they too could become president. Inspiring! Ronald Reagan did what a dozen Americans with Disability acts could not have done. He gave stupid people a sense of mission!
Dana Carvey’s “Gerald Ford Dead Today” sketch begged the all-important question: measured at least by brain waves, how could you tell? What more need one say of this man who parleyed his IQ into a long post-presidential twilight of success on the greens. He was a great non-crook. Perhaps the greatest non-entity since Coolidge. Nuff said.
Of the original, incomparable, legendary Tricky Dick what can you say? If Reagan’s gift to us was to make being stupid politically acceptable, Dicky’s was to teach us compassion for crooks. Greater love hath no man.
Of Harding and Coolidge it is perhaps enough to say that they gave us the Depression, and in so doing became the models for all Republicans since. None has yet achieved their level of impact on ordinary Americans, but Dubya is hot on their tail and still has four months.
How one asks, do the Republicans achieve such spectacularly consistent results. Their secret weapon is in demographics, as the following chart illustrates. The key to understanding this chart, however, is the statement of John Stuart Mill, a man who knew a thing or two about being smart (he had an estimated IQ of 210). I paraphrase, “I don’t say that all conservatives are stupid, but that all stupid people are conservatives.”
If the Republicans have the bottom half of the bell curve to themselves, how can a Democrat hope to compete? The best we can hope for is to launch the odd mediocrity, such as Lyndon Johnson. But this is kids’ stuff. The professional idiots are the Republicans. I take my hat off to them. “Hats off, gentlemen, a dolt.” Sarah Palin, if history is any indication, you could well be our next great Republican president. All the indicators are there, and you have the best backing in the world.
Posted by Joe Firmage in 2008 Election, American History, Conservative Sell-Outs, Conservatives, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Federal Budget, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Mental Illness, Military Industrial Complex, National Politics, Nuclear Weapons, Party Politics, Peace, Political Corruption, Reagan, Republicans, Richard Nixon, The Constitution, This Blog, Zeitgeist on March 11, 2008
Come one, come all pundits on this blog, to a penetrating quantitative analysis of Presidential greatness versus experience at–
(scroll down to “Is an Experienced President a Good President?”)
Conclusion: no correlation whatsoever!
According to this data, LBJ, with 27 years in the Congress, is the number two most experienced president and for my money, he was an exceptionally poor one. He was effective in the Senate but not in the White House. His presidency was proof positive AGAINST the argument that effective legislators make effective executives. Dramatic evidence that the executive and legislative arenas require two radically different skill sets.
Reagan on the other hand came from the executive branch, with eight painfully long years as governor and a whole lifetime on the campaign trail, but nonetheless for my money was one of drop-dead dumbest, silliest, clumsiest, least effective presidents in American history, running neck and neck with Bill Clinton in every department except intelligence–a most valid comparison oft-noted by presidential historians.
Reagan authorized arms for hostages, birthday cakes to the Ayatolla, a totally rogue-nation CIA that pandered to Iraq and armed Iran, coddling Saddam Hussein and other megalomaniacal tyrants all over the globe. Even while preaching the gospel of fiscal conservatism the Gipper ran up the greatest federal debt in the history of the world and then, for his last act, casually blew off the opportunity for total superpower nuclear disarmament offered to him on a silver platter by a genuflecting Gorbachev at Reykjavik–far and away the single greatest presidential blunder in all of American history–by many orders of magnitude more colossally stupid than anything Dubbya has ever done. In so many, many ways–fiscal, economic, domestic, foreign, environmental–Reagan set the stage for the eventual disintegration of America as a world power. What Dubbya has completed, Reagan began.
So I would be contrarian as to what constitutes, “effective” let alone, “great.” The dead-wrong-as-usual conventional wisdom is that Reagan was effective because he won two elections by large margins, reversing the polarity of the Congress, just as Clinton did 1992. This was the so-called Reagan “revolution.”
But I don’t buy that “effective” means “effective at winning elections” or “effective at political survival purely for its own sake”.
To me, “effective” means succeeding at some clearly defined political policy objective AND ALSO dealing adroitly with unforeseen contingencies–per Abraham Lincoln during the civil warm, or FDR during the Depression. “Effective” would in its penultimate expression mean being quite willing to LOSE an election in order to do the right thing for the country. It means having both vision AND stamina AND imagination AND integrity AND grace under pressure, all working together seamlessly.
Bill Clinton had no defined political policy objectives whatsoever, beyond longevity for himself in elected office. He was an airhead. He did exactly whatever pollster Dick Morris told him to do just about as mechanically as Dubbya did whatever Karl Rove told him to do, or Ronald Reagan did whatever his advisors thought General Electric and Bechtel–which supplied virtually his entire top management team–might wish him to do. Clinton’s single great domestic triumph is said to have been skillful “triangulation” of the Gingrich congress–e.g., promoting NAFTA on behalf of the military-industrial complex, and officiating over “the end of welfare as we know it.” Selling the poor mostly black folk down the river in order to fill up the campaign warchests and win elections.
But I don’t see much logic in crediting Clinton for balancing the budget or stimulating the economy. The ephermeral uplift of the 1990’s was very simply the ground swell of business cycle itself combined with a “perfect storm” of circumstance and convergent technology which temporarily spiked productivity even as energy prices and therefore inflation were at a cyclical low. Clinton was no more responsible for the behavior of the energy price/inflation cycle or the business cycle than Jimmy Carter was responsible for the behavior of OPEC.
Bill Clinton was “adroit” in handling unforeseen crises only inasmuch as he was shrewd enough to back down on whatever he had recently set out to do (gays in the military, national health care) or sufficiently timid enough to procrastinate on indefinitely (genocide in Bosnia, Rwanda)–either pulling back or flat giving up whenever a challenge proved difficult or dangerous. His greatest asset was his spectacular survival instinct whenever it was necessary to extricate himself–again and again; and again and again and again and again–from entirely self-engendered personal career crises, such as draft dodging, then Whitewater, then Geniffergate and Travelgate and Monicagate–et al. Wall to wall Bimbogate across two decades in elected office: the hidden “agenda” of the Clinton administration that presidential historians have long since conveniently forgotten….
We could very defensibly argue that the best president may well be the one who is so timid, so cautious, so utterly devoid of imagination, ideas, hutzpah or vision, so perfectly incapable of taking ANY initiative that he basically withdraws into a tortoise shell of inertia for his entire term. We want not the person “First in His Class”, but rather the phlegmatic student who SLEPT through class. We should aspire not to youthful idealism, but to advanced old age bordering on senility. Eisenhower would be the penultimate example. (“Is he ALIVE?”) The best offense is a strategy of uncompromising, isolationist, tortoise-like defense.
Are not the best presidents, like the best doctors, those wise and shrewd and zen enough to do nothing at all–to let time and the immune system do their work with minimal interference– as opposed to those who, like JFK declaring what would become the Cold War with his adolescent grandstanding and saber-rattling (“Let’s invade Cuba–that’ll show em!”), LBJ/Nixon in Vietnam, Truman in Korea, bush I and Bush II in Iraq, all making it their foremost priority to drive the nation straight into war at any cost whatsoever to the country and the people?
[Editors note: is this actually a back-door argument FOR the value of “experience”?Â That depends upon what we mean by “experience”….]
What conventionally “great” Presidents do is make war, not policy or legislation. Nothing like a national security crisis to bring one’s personal approval ratings out of the toilet.
As Edward Abbey put it we have had “Roosevelt’s war”, then “Truman’s war”, then what might be called either “Kennedy’s War”, or “Johnson’s War,” or “Nixon’s War”, then “Bush War I” and “Bush War II”.
Our ambitious young men can think of nothing so glamorous as leading the nation into war.
But I would suggest that the conventional definition of “effectiveness” and “greatness” be reversed.
Instead of the hutzpah to rush into war, let’s acknowledge that true greatness is having the wisdom–and courage–to skillfully avoid it.
Psychology and science made their debut as American weapons of war in 1916. President Woodrow Wilson, a Southern Democrat and avowed racial terrorist launched, â€œthe Committee on Public Information.â€ That same year, President Wilson welcomed a parade of several hundred thousand hooded white men at the White House. The original masters of Amerikan terror held court in all their white robed glory. Soon President Wilson appointed George Creel as Chair of the â€œCommittee on Public Information,â€ and the state of war came home to stay forevermore.
During this time advertising, psychology and media technology came to define a new kind of society. A society in which human beings live to tend machines and spend the green. The good white people were trained to make the scene and the robber barons hands washed clean. The socialists, anarchists and subversives came like curses upon this new order of things. President Wilson swiftly passed the Espionage Act through Congress in 1917 at the same time he covertly ordered U.S. troops from the war front in France to support the Imperial (white) Army of Czar Nicholas III against the popular revolt in Russia.
Dissent about the war â€œover thereâ€ (World War I) raged across America then much as it does today. To my dismay the tyrannical plays written in those days have grown in multiple ways to even include gays in this modern age. The struggle of the owners and masters to preserve their power matured into the beast of Babylon inside the 5 sided fist-a-gon.
From CointelPro to TIA they convey a sense of fear and insecurity that violates the purity of our souls. CointelProâ€™s or more properly, Counter Intelligence Programs developed by the FBI to disrupt and spy on American dissent and protest caused most of the distress. The program would coalesce by the late 1960â€™s in Nixonâ€™s War on drugs, niggas and thugs. They swept the covert domestic war under the rug and slinked away snug as a bug in a rug. The hole it dug for us just keeps getting deeper. Terror filled eyes shy away from grim reaper better drive to Wal-Mart to buy their shit cheaper.
But not mine . . . they have seen the glory. Iâ€™ve seen the mountaintop and nothing can wash that away. Not even TIA (Total Information Awareness). Take a few moments to educate yourself. Not just for your health but for the wealth of the nations. Tell some friends two or three and maybe they too will see what I see. Maybe we could be free . . . then.
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Utah Law Review Volume 1973 (Winter) No. 4, 681-704. Reprinted with permission. Document PDF
Presented to the U.S Senate in 1973.
The genesis of this document was a request by then Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield via Utah Senator Ted Moss to provide a how-to in preparation to for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. It is perhaps the most comprehensive survey of the substantive law of impeachment under U.S. law. It was accompanied by a The Procedural Law of Impeachment also by Ed Firmage.
In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.
Mr. Justice Louis Brandeis
The Constitution provides: â€œThe President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.â€ The Framers of the Constitution intentionally selected from English law and Parliamentary practice the phrase â€œhigh crimes and misdemeanors,â€  which by then possessed definable content within boundaries  established by Parliamentary precedents originating with political offenses separate from the common law of crimes. From this English precedent, the Framers pruned those historical anachronisms attributable to Parliamentâ€™s moral struggle with the Crown for supremacy and ministerial responsibility, ultimately bequeathing a doctrine capable of protecting this country against presidential and ministerial offenses â€” criminal and non-criminal â€” subversive of the Constitution and its governmental institutions.
This Article will focus upon four influences that together determine the law of presidential impeachment: English law; the Constitutional Convention and state ratifying conventions; American impeachment experience; and public policy considerations. It is the public policy considerations upon which judgment must ultimately be based in our system governed by a body of law that is designed to protect the Republic rather than to punish the offender.
I. English Law
The American constitutional impeachment clause had its origin in English law.  The division of functions between the Senate as both trier of fact and judge of law, and the House as prosecutor originated in the same apportionment of functions in England between Lords and Commons. Hamilton acknowledged that the English experience was â€œthe model from which [impeachment was] borrowed.â€  The debates in the Constitutional Convention and the state ratification conventions  clearly indicate that the delegates were aware of the English law and practice of Parliamentary impeachment. Moreover, the term â€œhigh crimes and misdemeanorsâ€ was taken directly from English Parliamentary law and practice. Story asserted that â€œwhat are and are not high crimes and misdemeanors is to be ascertained by a recurrence toâ€ English law.  Accordingly, the general content and structure of the English law of impeachment, being the matrix within which the Framers fashioned the constitutional doctrine of impeachment,  become the first source for determining the meaning of â€œhigh crimes and misdemeanors.â€
Duke Law Journal Volume 1974 (January) No. 6, 1023-1116. Reprinted with permission. Document PDF
The genesis of this document was a request by the then Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield via Utah Senator Ted Moss to provide a how-to in preparation for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. It is a survey of substantive law of impeachment. It was accompanied by a The Procedural Law of Impeachment also by Ed Firmage.
This document went through a number of iterations as events unfolded through Nixonâ€™s resignation to subsequent pardon.
II. The English Precedents
III. House Impeachment Procedure
A. The Initiation of Preliminary Investigations in the House
B. The Irrelevance of Probable Cause to Impeach Named Individuals
C. Investigations Preparatory to the Articles of Impeachment
D. The Drafting of Articles of Impeachment
E. The Right of the Accused to Appear in the Court of the House Investigation
F. The Burden of Proof for the Adoption of the Articles
G. The Public Eye on the Adoption of the Articles of Impeachment
H. The Committee Report on the Articles of Impeachment
I. The Vote on the Articles on the Floor of the House
J. The Effects of Recesses and Adjournments on the Impeachment Process
K. The House Selection of Managers
IV. Senate Impeachment Procedure
A. Does the Senate Sit as a Court?
B. Initiation of the Senate Trial
C. The Presiding Officer
D. Conduct of the Impeachment Trial
E. Evidentiary Rulings
F. Final Arguments and Voting
V. Raising the Defense of Executive Privilege
A. Executive Privilege Based on Separation of Powers
B. Withholding Information When the Public Interest Requires Executive Secrecy
C. Withholding Information on the Basis of a Statutory Privilege
VI. Excluding Evidence on Other Constitutional or Evidentiary Ground
VII. Impeachment and Judicial Review
VIII. Impeachment and Indictment
IX. Pardon and Impeachment
A. Historical Analysis of Pardon
B. Elements of Pardon
C. The Nixon Pardon and Beyond
Actuated by these sentiments our ancestors arrayed themselves against the government in one huge and compact mass. All ranks, all parties, all Protestant sects, made up that vast Phalanx. In the van were the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, Then came the landed gentry and the clergy; both the Universities, all the Inns of Court, merchants, shopkeepers, farmers, the porters who plied in the streets of the great towns, the peasants who ploughed the fields. The league against the King included the very foremast men who manned his ships, the very sentinels who guarded his palace. The names of Whig and Tory were for a moment forgotten. The old Exclusionist took the old Abhorrer by the hand. Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, forgot their long feuds, and remembered only their common Protestantism and their common danger . . .The coalition of 1688 was produced, and could be produced, only by tyranny, which approached to insanity, and by danger which threatened at once all the great institutions of the country.
The aborted proceeding to impeach Richard Nixon has stimulated debate about the appropriateness of the impeachment process as a check upon the arbitrary use of presidential power. Impeachment has been criticized as a cumbersome, agonizingly slow, and unjustifiably expensive way for Congress to express its will, extracting a cost in an abraded electorate suffering further with duties of government unmet while Congress and the presidency are consumed with their offensive and defensive roles in the process. Termination of the impeachment proceeding without an admission of moral guilt (only â€œerrors of judgmentâ€) or a finding of legal responsibility is a disquieting denouement for the Watergate tragedy. Further, such proceedings could not adequately resolve whether a President who resigns when faced with certain removal should be allowed extensive federal retirement benefits or if a resigning President should have immunity from prosecution for criminal acts committed while in officeâ€”now a mooted question as to federal prosecution because of President Fordâ€™s pardon.