Tuesday, May 09, 2017

“What does it matter to the Justice Department if one White House official lies to another?”

Look! Over there!  No, really, look!!

Because it's not about governance; it's only about power.  And as long as the power flows, the obligations of governance are irrelevant.

Elections have consequences.  I was listening to a discussion about judges in America; how many state judges are elected, how Europeans find this perplexing.  The political culture of Europe is rooted in the experience of monarchy:  judges were not independent so much as they were part of the Crown.  Judges in Europe are, by and large, appointed, usually by some judicial council that oversees the judges and their function.  It is a logical extension of the history of monarchy.  America has no such history, indeed takes pride in throwing off all vestiges of monarchical rule (and so we still squabble about "small government" and "States rights", which aren't exclusively euphemisms for racist rule).  So we elect judges (in Texas we elect everyone from Municipal Court to the State Supreme Court; it's a long ballot of judges), because the people are the monarch.

But, of course, the people are also the mob.  There's a reason Federal judges are appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and serve for life.  There's a reason judges are elected, especially in the post-Reconstruction South, and face re-election on a regular basis, and it's not just "politics."

That system works as long as at least lip-service is paid to creating a functioning government, which depends upon a functioning judiciary (something the Senate, through the offices of Mitch McConnell, endangered for 8 years under Barack Obama.  There's a reason Trump needs to fill 120 judgeships, and it ain't because Obama didn't feel like vetting anybody.).  Classic depictions of corrupt politicians always turn on people who are more interested in power than in governance.

Now we have a White House and a Congress which are only interested in power.  The people realize this:  that's why there are so many contentious town hall meetings since November.  But elections have consequences.

And for at least the next four years, in the White House and probably in at least one house of Congress, it will still be about power, and governance be damned.  If one White House official lies to another, who cares, so long as power is not impeded?

The title, by the way, was the statement of the White House counsel Donald McGahn to Sally Yates, shortly before she was fired.

Dark for dark deeds, as Tolkien's dwarves told Bilbo.  We have to remember that sunlight is an antiseptic, and the tweets of the President are not only daft, but dangerous.

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