A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Day I Didn’t Kick John Ehrlichman

John Ehrlichman was a criminal.  He was convicted of conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice for his role in the Watergate/Nixon conspiracy, but his real crime was contributing to the destruction of constitutional governance, destruction of the patterns of belief that gave a little power to the common man, woman and child.  I am not sure there is a worse social crime.  So he and his co-conspirators must have received serious jail time with maybe torture and other really bad stuff…

Then what the hell was he doing standing in front of me in line at the post office looking prosperous and happy!  I so wanted to kick him and yell out his crimes.  But I was a coward, too socialized, too frightened for my little business that depended on the most important segment of the community… and he was out of jail after only 18 months for one of the nation’s worst crimes; so maybe a simple ordinary citizen could get into serious trouble kicking him.

This was all many years ago.  (Ehrlichman is dead and I am still alive – I win. I know, really petty, but I have regretted not kicking him for 30 years).  The next year he and I were coaches in the same Lamaze class, and my attitude relaxed a bit, but only as I thought of him going “fuu, fuu, fuu, fuu” in the almost completely useless support of the birth of a new human being – maybe the kid would kick him.

But he did go to jail, even if for only for a year and a half in a country club prison.  The high crimes of the Bush administration, the continuing crimes of the Obama administration, the failures to enforce financial sector laws and the failures to bring the appropriate pressure on almost untouchable Supreme Court members who publicly flaunt conflicts of interest, these crimes and more – even more insidious than Ehrlichman’s crimes – will not even be admitted as having happened, much less be prosecuted, no matter how weakly.

Laws have two basic functions; one is to inform as to the rules of the society and the other is to indicate the seriousness with which those rules are regarded.  If a law is claimed to be essential and yet is not enforced by using popular and state power to demonstrate the seriousness with which society holds the law, then it is no law and only a suggestion.  Since laws tend to be created about things that people actually do, often for personal gain, things that destabilize or disrupt social functioning, the failure to enforce laws is certain to increase the incidence of and danger from the prohibited action.
The essay that began this blog opens with: “Is it possible in today’s political climate to apply the rule of law to the powerful?  If it is not, then this nation is only a structure of power-relationships that adapts to the exigencies of subterfuge and force.” 
I think it a pretty simple proposition: if the economically and politically powerful are not subject to the rule of law it is only a short matter of time before there will be nothing left of democratic design and rule of law that gave hope and security to our daily lives. 
It was clear from before the 2000 election, and abundantly clear after, that the Bush administration was a criminal enterprise flaunting law and assuming royal prerogative, literally in the manner of a despotism: Cheney’s energy task-force, which we now have very good reason to believe was dividing up Iraqi and other Middle Eastern oil properties, refused legal oversight; the many violations of law in the run up to the Iraq war and questionable dealings even in the funding and movements in Afghanistan.  It is a long list, available at various sites on the Web. 
It is my belief that the promise of the United States of America, as compromised as that promise has been, will be irrevocably lost if Bush, Cheney, Rove, Addington and others are not prosecuted for their crimes in office, and if the continuing violations of the Obama administration are not prosecuted.  I, frankly, see no way that the nation will recover without clearly reestablishing the rule of law in the public mind. The U.S. Constitution cannot function as a series of suggestions.
In the very most generous interpretation, that laws are broken to protect US citizens and business, there is still no defense.  Lawlessness at this political level can tolerate no assertions of ignorance of the intent of the law. There are many options for gaining full legal authority if some change in the application of law is actually needed.  These people willingly violated the letter and spirit of not only statutory law, but also the Constitution and its established interpretations.  They can have no defense other than innocence – there are no mitigating circumstances.  This is not a matter of being unsure of what the law was.  They clearly knew, demonstrated by their active efforts to cover up, hide and obscure rather than to openly explain their concerns and find lawful means to deal with those concerns.  Their criminality was against us all; against the very fabric of our society.

Perhaps if I had kicked Erhlichman and others had joined in, yelling their condemnations, if it became common knowledge that people would rise up against those who commit crimes destructive of the common good when they go to the post office, then, sometimes I wonder, might future generations of evil men and women have been chastened.  I think not, but still I will never know.

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