Saturday, April 10, 2021
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Tag: Nixon

A Law to Make Congress Follow the Constitution

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Senator Kaine Public Square 52 photo 141021SenatorKaine_zps8b320dca.jpgGoing to war is serious business. Senator Kaine (D-VA) believes that those in whom that power is vested should follow a deliberate process and that the executive should be bound by the decision. The Constitution is not vague about the responsibilities but the world presents circumstances that are.

In an attempt to clear up any misunderstanding about the authority to commit forces to war, Senator Kaine has joined with Senator McCain (R-AZ) to offer legislation that will establish a process to ensure the judicious application of military force. Yesterday's participation in the Richmond Times Dispatch Public Square series was part of Senator Kaine's effort to gather "comments, suggestions, criticisms..." in a strategy to shape and craft the bill.

Tacitly, President Bush followed the requirements of the War Powers Act, a law passed in 1973 following the frustration over the prosecution of the Viet Nam War. That was designed to rein in the initiative of any President using military force but written with both Johnson and Nixon in mind. Johnson had the support of a Congress that never imagined the scope of involvement that would precipitate. Then Nixon attacked two countries, Laos and Cambodia, without consulting Congress. To be honest, no President went as far as Bush to conform to the letter of the War Powers Act. The others managed to avoid anything more than consulting with Congressional leadership and always went on their merry way. However, the fact that George Bush appealed for authority may be more revealing about how thin he knew his justification was and that he needed cover rather than indicating sincere regard for the law. Plus the timing of the request appears suspiciously politically motivated.

Further, the authorization that Congress gave President Bush has no sunset or clearly defined achievable objective. As long as it remains in effect, Presidents can and will chase any remnant or offshoot of al Qaida's ghost, real or imagined, while waving the authorization as justification for centuries to come. So, even if you argue that he and his successor have acted under the authority of the War Powers Act, you observe the same result that arose before the Act, different day: war(s) with a scope never imagined when authorized, being fought in second, third (fourth, fifth...) party countries. Senator Kaine's obsession with the subject is more than justified.

Get Ready For a Push to Return to the Gold Standard

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At first it was only Ron Paul (R, TX), the fringe libertarian Congressman who talked seriously about a return to the gold standard. Since the Wall Street meltdown and the Great Recession, however, we have heard a growing chorus of politicians (mostly right-wing), and conservative economists floating the idea of a return to the gold standard as the solution to rising federal deficits and the jobless recovery. Various bigwigs like World Bank President Robert Zoelick, Warren Buffet's father Howard Buffet, and Kansas Federal Reserve President Thomas Hoenig all have made statements supporting a return to the gold standard, but nothing has been so remarkable as hearing Alan Greenspan, in an interview on Fox Business, say:
We have at this particular stage a fiat currency which is essentially money printed by a government and it's usually a central bank which is authorized to do so.  Some mechanism has got to be in place that restricts the amount of money which is produced, either a gold standard or a currency board, because unless you do that all of history suggest that inflation will take hold with very deleterious effects on economic activity... There are numbers of us, myself included, who strongly believe that we did very well in the 1870 to 1914 period with an international gold standard.

Even more stunning was hearing Greenspan question whether or not we even need a central bank (i.e., the Federal Reserve); he also claimed that the housing bubble was not his fault, if anything, it was "the Fed's," as if he himself was not really "the Fed" at the time.  

I’m Fred Malek, and I Ripped Off Another State’s Pension Funds…

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Fascinating. When Fred Malek introduces himself, he doesn't talk about his fine service in the Nixon Administration as chief "Jew counter." What, isn't he proud of that part of his career? Nor does he mention the fact that his firm, Thayer Capital Partners, was forced to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 -- and Malek himself forced to cough up $100,000 -- for their role in defrauding Connecticut state pension funds.  Of course, that might not have gotten a government "reform" panel off on the right note, so perhaps that explains Malek's omission. Heh.  

Anyway, I'm sure this commission will do fine work, even though Virginia's government has already been slimmed down to the bone by Governors Warner and Kaine, and even though the commission (not to mention Virginia itself) is led by a bunch of right-wing ideologues whose answer to every question is "cut spending for the most vulnerable."  Despite all that, I'm sure this will be a highly productive exercise.  Yeah, and if you believe that, you probably also think that George W. Bush was one of our greatest presidents...

Fred Malek: Jew-counting “Enforcer” of the GOP

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In 2006, Colbert King wrote an extensive op-ed piece about the past career of Fred Malek, the man Bob McDonnell has placed at the head his recently named committee to "streamline" Virginia government. The occasion for the renewed interest in Malek in 2006 was a discussion surrounding the return of major league baseball to the nation's capital.

Several groups of investors wanted the opportunity to become the new owners of the franchise that was moved from Montreal to Washington. The ownership group put together by Malek lost out to a group led by Maryland real estate developer Theodore Lerner.

Many of us by now have heard how Malek, who was called the "enforcer" of the Nixon administration where he was the deputy undersecretary for management, obliged Richard Nixon with a count of the Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nixon, surely our most paranoid president, thought "disloyal" Jews at BLS were undermining him by noting that a drop in the unemployment figure in 1971 might just be a statistical fluke. Since the comment was made by a man named Harold Goldstein, Nixon and his henchmen jumped to their anti-Semitic conclusion.

Enraged, Nixon demanded to know how many Jews worked at the agency. Fred Malek was tasked with the duty of uncovering the number of Jews at the agency and reporting back to Nixon.

Malek has stated many times that he regrets that action. I don't question that. I wonder, however, if he regrets other things in his past as a Republican operative acting at the edge of legality, things like being deep in the Watergate slime.