Shadow

[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]

“… the isolated and powerful imperial presidency was over. The nation seemed to be falling in love with its new Midwestern president.”

-NOT January 2025, but August 1974. Regardless of where he (or she) is from, though, the absolute best American presidential candidate would have maximum life-experience, knowledge and wisdom, but still be lucid and sane.

The Book of the Week is “Shadow, Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate” by Bob Woodward, published in 1999. This primer on presidential power-struggles was written toward the end of the Clinton Era–prior to the historical revisionism and 20 / 20 hindsight of the resurgence of American presidential power.

President Jimmy Carter made a campaign promise that his administration was going to behave morally. Yet, in summer 1977, his budget director Bert Lance got in trouble for personal financial conflicts and hypocrisy. In 1978, Carter signed the Ethics in Government Act, some aspects of which turned out to be a can of worms for later presidents. Pursuant to the Act, an independent counsel was to be appointed to investigate illegal behavior of a president when there was probable cause. However, in the next two decades, overzealous, viciously vengeful, legally wily government officials abused their power to launch witch hunts. Any counsel appointed could never really be “independent.”

The Justice Department has the authority to investigate wrongdoing by a president. Nonetheless, the Department serves under the president, who is presumably considered innocent until proven guilty. But, most of the time, the president’s political enemies clamor for the administration to appoint the “independent” counsel (a prosecutor) whose job is to find wrongdoing.

By the summer of 1995, the above conundrum dogged president Bill and first lady Hillary Clinton. “The FBI couldn’t investigate itself. The White House was at the center, and the Justice Department also would have zero credibility investigating its own bureau or the White House.” “Independent” counsel Ken Starr twisted the Ethics in Government Act for his own purposes in instigating the tabloidy probes into Whitewater business transactions, the White House travel office activities, Vince Foster’s death, and later on, Bill Clinton’s sex life.

In May 1997, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a private party could bring a civil suit against a president still in office. Thus, the Paula Jones case could proceed. Even so, at that time, now-Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh believed that Ken Starr was abusing his power as an independent counsel in maximally, mean-spiritedly probing the Clintons. Bill Clinton didn’t help his cause, though, by launching vigorous denials and counterattacks, instead of coming clean.

Anyway, read the book to learn of how post-Watergate presidents handled the changing political times in connection with presidential power amid increasing partisan hostility. As is well known, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Excesses reach a screaming crescendo; dissatisfaction reaches critical mass, and the people say, enough’s enough.

In order to boost their ratings (and profitability), the media incessantly teases Americans with propagandizing, incitement and phoniness. But, not to worry. When the nation is at its breaking point, there will be surprises. Again, DO NOT be fooled by Trump’s “new Nixon” act. Here’s what’s actually going on.

THE MINDS THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

sung to the tune of “The Times They Are A-Changin’ with apologies to Bob Dylan.

Protect your history books YOU have at home,
beCAUSE revisionists around you have grown.
Stop fretting. Soon our government’s fate will be known.
If you vote, it’s democracy you’ll be saving.
It’ll be really exciting, you’ll see a new tone.

For the minds, they are a-changin’.

Come readers and thinkers who are mature and kind.
And keep your ears open, it’s compromise you’ll find.
Don’t give up too soon, for you’ll see the signs.
There’s no telling truth from the raving.
You just might be in for a pleasant surprise.

For the minds, they are a-changin’.

Come senators, Congress reps, do the correct thing.
Don’t be a greedy hypocrite, don’t act like a king.
Or you will get outed, you will feel the sting.
There’s a new ethical attitude dawning.
It’ll soon shake your conscience and become a thing.

For the minds, they are a-changin’.

Come community leaders throughout the land.
Tyranny is trembling despite best laid plans.
Think for yourself: democracy is at your command.
You’ll replace the rapidly aging.
To the young idealists, you’ll lend your hand.

For the minds, they are a-changin’.

Sure, there are still pawns,
but the worst it is past,
though the nation’s mandates appear to be vast.
Targets of hatred should no more be harassed.
The ugliness is rapidly fading.
And the best characters will be hired for the cast.

For the minds, they are a-changin’.

Bill Moyers Journal

[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]

The Book of the Week is “Bill Moyers Journal, The Conversation Continues” by Bill Moyers, published in 2011. This compilation of interviews was done in the middle of the Obama Era–prior to the historical revisionism and 20 / 20 hindsight of the Trump Era and thereafter.

One subject Moyers touched on was campaign finance. Due to the merging of the American political, media and business worlds, and court rulings, money has corrupted the election process. Two cliches apply: The fox is guarding the henhouse (it’s really hard to clean up “Tammany Hall” because many of the enforcers themselves have conflicts of interest), and the fish rots from the head down (unethical behavior is contagious).

One way to take unfair advantages away from wealthy candidates is to legally require publicly financed campaigns. Obviously, even legally required disclosure means nothing to shameless, greedy officeholders who refuse to act ethically in connection with their conflicts of interest, once they’re elected.

Higher-quality (better behaved, less hypocritical!) Americans would be more inclined to run for office at all levels. Leaders need to be tax-paying, law-abiding citizens– people for whom honesty is a habit, a lifestyle (or at least have a reputation for it, such as Bernie Sanders). Otherwise, this nation will become a Third World country.

The latest big U.S. Supreme Court ruling is yet another indication that the nation needs campaign finance reform. That ruling was likely a choice between the lesser of two evils, in which the worse evil would be even more expensive (not just financially) for American taxpayers.

It was comparative to the 2008 financial-crisis bailout program. The alternative to the bailout would have been, that alpha males with hubris syndrome who possessed almost as much hegemony as George W. Bush, would have launched an extremely long, traumatic, complex set of lawsuits (whose goal of some would have been to get their bonuses), that would have bankrupted ordinary, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. Ironically.

Perhaps the conservative Supreme Court justices rationalized that their ruling would be the lesser of two evils. Yes, they would give absolute power to a future president who acts like a dictator who loots his country. However, the law could be modified in the future. And the current American money-driven electoral system allows a candidate to purchase his way to office, anyway.

But the alternative would be: Trump could take the title, “president.” As is well known, Biden has some skeletons in the closet, and he’s been the target of witch hunts for, forever. So the ruling was also a deterrent to Trump’s allies and other Biden-haters who would stop at nothing to kick Biden out of office, and distract Americans from the 2024 presidential election process.

The bottom line is, TAXPAYERS ARE ALWAYS FOOTING THE BILL FOR THE MESSES AND SHENANIGANS OF THEIR GOVERNMENT. Decisions made by the authorities in massive financial scandals clearly aim to lessen the (still outrageous) tax burden on innocent Americans, lest there be revolution.

The United States needs CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM NOW. Abortion, gun control and healthcare can wait.

On a different issue, Moyers interviewed James Cone, a professor in New York City and a person of color. Cone thought white Americans omitted inconvenient facts when discussing their history, such as: Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were slaveholders. He said, “Because America likes to be innocent… that’s why it’s hard for Barack Obama or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to talk about blackness; if they talked about blackness in the real, true sense, it would be uncomfortable.”

Read the book to learn about a wealth of other issues on which America needs to work.