Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 7-26-07: In Defense of John Conyers

Image: Themis, Goddess of Justice

A new wrinkle over the apparent politicization of the Department of Justice (DOJ) emerged on Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing when a freshman Democratic lawmaker revealed the contents of a May 2006 memo. The memo, signed by embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, granted Vice President Dick Cheney extraordinary authority to review active federal civil and criminal investigations at the DOJ. At the time the memo was signed by Gonzales, Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was preparing his defense on obstruction of justice and perjury charges involving the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's name. Also, the special prosecutor who secured an indictment in the case on behalf of the government was reportedly trying to determine whether Cheney and numerous other White House officials also unmasked Plame's identity to reporters and lied about it to a grand jury and FBI investigators. Jason Leopold, Truthout, 7-26-07

Hard Rain Journal 7-26-07: In Defense of John Conyers

By Richard Power

I intended to write about the DoJ scandal in this post.

This is an important juncture.

Much of what I suggested in Hard Rain Journal 3-25-07: DoJ Purge Update: Four Blockbusters that Have Not Hit -- YET has come to pass and the rest is on its way.

But unfortunately, there is something else that must be addressed.

Since early in the year, I have written that speculation about the 2008 presidential race is an indulgence the progressive movement could not afford, because the fate of the republic would probably be decided in the next six months or so.

Since early in the year, I have also written that we were on course for a constitutional crisis of unprecedented significance.

Both admonitions are turning out to have been true. But in regard to the criticality of this long hot summer, I did not foresee (or perhaps more honestly I chose to deny) the possibility that the progressive movement would begin devouring itself half-way into the great battle.

And in regard to what is indeed the most dire constitutional crisis in our history, I did not foresee (or perhaps more honestly I chose to deny) what it would be like to have a constitutional crisis which the mainstream news media and by extension the general population did not acknowledge.

It is almost unbearable to contemplate losing this republic because the forces of liberalism, i.e., those who reflect the vision and intent of the founders, fell on their own in the most important battle.

Nevertheless, that appears to be a distinct possibility.

In May, when Cindy Sheehan announced her "retirement," I wrote about her with the same respect (see Hard Rain Journal 5-29-07: Cindy Sheehan Says "Goodbye, America ..." Consider Why She was Shunned & Marginalized) that I have written abour her since she first showed up at Bush's faux ranch, established Camp Casey and changed the direction of the country.

But less than two months later, she turns up in Beltwayistan, leading a protest against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

John Conyers?

Yes, John Conyers, who has a long career of courageous and principled leadership, and who held meetings on the stolen election of 2004 and the Downing Street Memo in the basement of the House, when no other high ranking elected official would touched those issues.

To make matters worse, Media Benjamin and Ray McGovern, two people I admire for their conscience and their courage (e.g., Hard Rain Journal 8-1-06: Ray McGovern on the Neo-Con Amateur Hour Performance of "No Exit"), not only participated, but also subsequently wrote hit pieces on Conyers.

Media wrote that Conyers has betrayed the country (Common Dreams, 7-24-07), and Ray wrote that John Conyers was no Martin Luther King (Common Dreams, 7-24-07).

Well, Cindy should have taken some more time off.

And Media Benjamin who has been called a traitor many times herself should no better than to say that John Conyers has betrayed this country.

So should Ray McGovern. No, John Conyers is not Martin Luther King. Nor are any of those who attempted to embarrass him by getting arrested in his office. I doubt Rep. Conyers sees himself as another MLK, and I hope none of them do either.

And, as someone who witnessed the course of Dr. King's career in real-time, and wept for joy at his speeches, and have drawn on the story of his life, and the content of his speeches ever since, I suggest that Dr. King would not have attacked John Conyers. He would not have marched on John Conyers.

Dr. King would have understood our circumstances better. He would not have flinched or compromised, but he would not have attacked those who were trying to make a stand.

You cannot make a stand, without sure footing, and Conyers, along with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) are trying to establish that sure footing, even as they fend off attacks from the Bush-Cheney regime, and its enablers in the US mainstream news media and the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party. Conyers, Leahy and Waxman have fought against the invasion and occupation of Iraq since its inception, and have led congressional struggle against the Bush-Cheney regime's lawlessness, throughout this long seven-year descent into hell. They are not disingenuous. They are not flacks for the Democratic Leadership Council. They are not Stenny Hoyer ("D"-MD) or Sen. Bill Nelson ("D"-FL). Go sit down in their offices. But they would not have met with you, and given you the opportunity to insult them, would they?

Yes, people are dying. Yes, people are doing to die every day until this foolish military adventure ends. But if the progressive movement turns on itself, at this critical juncture, and begins to eat its own, all is lost.

Of course, even if those among us who draw the most attention had acted with less naivety in the last few days, we would still be faced with the incredible circumstances of having been thrust into the grips of a constitutional crisis of unprecedented proportions while the US mainstream media, for most part, either looked the other way or relegated coverage to Tony Snow's sound-byte calling the actions of Conyers, Leahy, et al "pathetic."

The _resident and VICE _resident not only hold themselves above the law, but openly declare their lawlessness and dare anyone to stand against them, in the full confidence that if Sen. Mitch McConnel's filibustering clique cannot protect them, then certainly the Rove-picked US attorney for DC and the Rove-picked federal judges on the Supreme Court and the district Court of Appeals will protect them, with the complicity of George Stephanopoulos, Jim Lehrer and the others who refuse start their broadcasts by calling this moment what it is -- a moment that will either be the end or the beginning for us all. Go sit down in their offices. But they would not have met with you, and given you the opportunity to insult them, would they?

And you attack John Conyers?

Attacking symbols raises awareness, but you do not raise awareness by attacking the wrong symbol, you sow confusion and defeat.

The US body politic is sick with an infection and delusional from the resultant fever. Our democratic institutions have been twisted into deformities by a campaign finance system gone mad with corporatist money. The "Fourth Estate" might as well be hopped up on crack, because it is certainly selling itself for the next pipe full.

Perhaps Conyers, Leahy and Waxman will be able to bring this regime to its knees with what they are exposing, perhaps they will not. But it is worth the shot. And they have earned a chance at it.

Trust me, the DoJ scandal has enough in it to end the crime spree.

Al Capone was brought down on tax evasion.

Nixon was not forced out of office because of Vietnam, or Cambodia, or Chile. He was forced out of office because of some adhesive tape left on a door knob at the Watergate and some audio tapes left running in the Oval Office.

But alas, the USA had not fallen as low as it has in the last thirty years.

And it may be that the leaders of the resistance within the Congress fail, and worse yet, that the Democratic Party allows a nominee who is part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

Who will speak for you then? The shell of a man formerly known as Ralph Nader? He was wrong in 2000, he was wrong in 2004 and he will be wrong in 2008, no matter who is the Democratic nominee.

If Conyers, Leahy and Waxman are thwarted, and that sad scenario becomes our future, then we will all meet, as Robert F. Kennedy prophesized at Live Earth (7-7-07) "on the barricades."

John Conyers, despite his age, will be there beside you.

He deserves better.

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