Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dike and a crack in the dike

Faux News reports:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is receptive to the idea of prosecuting some Bush administration officials, while letting others who are accused of misdeeds leave office without prosecution, she told Chris Wallace in an interview on "FOX News Sunday."

"I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it," the California Democrat said. "And other things that are maybe time that is spent better looking to the future rather than to the past."

That looks suspiciously like a crack in the dike formerly known as "impeachment is off the table." Mind you, impeachment never made it to the table throughout the Bush Reign of Terror. Nonetheless, this is a hint that Pelosi might consider SOME form of accountability by the Bush regime.

Dike (Δίκη) is Greek for "justice" and the name of the daughter of Themis who is the divine personification of Justice. The illustration above is from an amphora and depicts "Dike (justice personified) beats Adikia (injustice) with a hammer." It is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum,
Vienna, Austria, and the illustration comes from

Dike cannot abide with Adikia. Justice cannot tolerate injustice.

There has been an outcry from the American People. Obama put up a website - - where people have been able to identify their priorities for the incoming administration. Alert folks helped place the appointment of a special prosecutor as the top vote-getter (above accountability in the bank bailout and healthcare).

The Obama administration and the Congress may be taking note, finally, of how important this is to the citizens of this nation. This requires them to ignore, for a while, their own timid sheep-think and the nattering of the beltway pundits who think we must move on and focus on the future.

Ralph Lopez put up a diary today at Daily Kos on Pelosi's seeming about-face, which inspired me to write here. At this point the diary concludes with this update:
Push the snowball

We know what Pelosi is, but politicians make statements like this for a reason, pressure coming from somewhere. But we are not passive observers, if everyone reaches out and gives the little snowball a push it turns into a big snowball. Nevermind if you think she is serious or not, CALL YOUR CONGRESSPERSON AND ADD TO THE CHORUS! They have their fingers to the wind and we are the wind...Until she is trapped into following up on her words. Just leave a message right now, the capitol switchboard is 24/7 and will connect you to your congressman's office answering machine. (202) 225-3121 Say "I want you to keep this investigation-prosecution talk going..." We're just farting around on our computers anyway, may as well make a call...

(202) 225-3121
[Emphasis mine]

I saw Frost/Nixon this afternoon (the movie based on Peter Morgan's play). Those David Frost interviews of Richard Nixon were done at a time in my life when I had withdrawn from the larger culture to pursue financial survival and my personal identity. I cannot say I even remember now (prior to this film coming out) that Frost interviewed Nixon, though I am certain that I was aware of it at the time. I do remember how elated I was when Nixon left office in disgrace (see, I was a vindictive type even then).

Though I feel Michael Sheen worked better for me as Tony Blair in The Queen than he does as David Frost, I am impressed by Frank Langella's performance as Nixon, especially the work he must have done to shift his voice into a register and gruffness that sounds quite a bit like Nixon did. The conclusion of the fourth interview has stunning acting by Langella - in a close-up of his face - that simultaneously humanizes Nixon and allows the horror of it all to sink in.

Historical accuracy aside (and one may read some of that discussion at Wikipedia), I found myself wanting to shout a few times during the film, making comments on its current relevance.

Dick Cheney may be chief among those who felt that the whole Watergate fiasco and Nixon's resignation were overblown and damaged the presidency. Cheney has relentlessly lead the crusade to restore presidential power and take it even further than Nixon did (cf. the whole "unitary executive" bullshit theory).

I would contend that (1) most of the criminals in Watergate and other Nixon misdoings got away with it, setting the stage for the idea that presidents and their staff may break the law with impunity and (2) not dealing adequately with this issue back then has allowed, and even almost created, the disaster of Bush's imperial presidency.

That is why I consider it so necessary to have accountability now. If we do not, we almost certainly guarantee a recurrence of such abuses in the future. Nothing less than our constitutional government is at stake - a theme I have harped upon here numerous times.

The Cheney-Rove-Bush administration has consistently, and with considerable success, sought to undo the questioning (and, to them, licentiousness and anarchy) of the 60s, the congressional restrictions on the presidency at the end of Nixon's time, and the New Deal.

We lefty bloggers - the DFH (or dirty fucking hippies) - have named their misdoings and cried for a stop to them, thus making us "the enemy." We also take democracy into our own hands by circumventing approved power structures to make our views known and raising huge amounts of campaign money, most of it a few dollars at a time. The political establishment has not liked this. The media establishment has not liked this. Fortunately, soon-to-be President Obama does "get" democracy and technology and the role of the American People.

May Dike triumph and Adikia fail.

Oh, and the number to demand hearings, once again, is (202) 225-3121.
--the BB

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