The Rule of Law: Justice Dept Saves Tobacco Industry $120Billion
Money. It's always at the heart of these things, and the Justice Department scandal is no different. Bush and Rove ordered the Justice Department to back off, change testimony, lower the punitive damage amounts, and basically throw the case that had gained real momentum during the Clinton era. The reason why is simple:
News reports on the strategy changes at the time caused an uproar in Congress and sparked an inquiry by the Justice Department. Government witnesses said they had been asked to change testimony, and one expert withdrew from the case. Government lawyers also announced that they were scaling back a proposed penalty against the industry from $130 billion to $10 billion.
$120 billion buys you a lot of things. I'm sure some fraction of this was funneled back into Republican party coffers. And elsewhere.
But to me, none of this is new. I've been paying attention the last six years and the "politicization" term is just too weak for my tastes. "Cronyism" has a nice ring, but is somehow too jocular. Even "corruption" and "record levels" don't do the trick. But there is one term that fits: fascism.
Here is some reading in the way I use the term. The general idea, attributed to Mussolini: "fascism should be call corporatism, for that's what it truly is."
Basically, what I'm saying is that we've had for the last six years a one-party state, and that party is the party of corporate interests. The government of the last six years has existed to serve those interests, at the expense of things like the public trust, the rule of law, national security and the national interest. That isn't democracy, or representative government, that's fascism. And it's not a coincidence that we've suffered all of the authoritarian troubles we have- the two go together like white and rice.
I know a lot of people believe that fascism is an overused word, but I promise you- as these hearings and investigations reveal the extent of the administration's corruption, very few other words will fully capture the extent of the problem. Fascists make war on nations that have done them no wrong. Fascists dominate the public discourse with the rhetoric of eliminationism. Fascists cynically manipulate the population to hate internal groups, the better to mask their own corruption and hypocrisy. Fascists use the state to enrich themselves, and those organizations which support them. Bush and his cronies are fascists.
The reason why this matters: All things Bush are poison. Poison to democracy, to the rule of law, to decent and representative government. If there is anything we can accomplish by continuing to be the outliers of public discourse and perception, it is that we can for all time, disqualify anyone associated with this administration, for that is the only way we can return the nation to Constitutional government and keep it there.