Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Impeach the Cox-sacker

On October 20, 1973, President Richard Nixon ordered his Attorney General, Elliott Richardson, to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox because he (Cox) was getting too close to the truth about the Watergate scandal.

Rather than comply with the order, Richardson resigned. Nixon then ordered Richardson’s second-in-command (William Ruckelshaus) to fire Cox. He, too, resigned rather than carry out the order.

The next highest ranking member of the Justice Department after Ruckelshaus was Solicitor General Robert Bork. Although Bork also felt that Nixon’s decision was unwise, he felt that SOMEBODY had to comply with Nixon’s order, so he fired Cox.

The morning after “the Saturday Night Massacre”, the headlines in my local newspaper read “Impeach the Cox-sacker”, and bumper stickers with the same line appeared soon after. As we all know, Nixon’s attempt to circumvent justice was not successful, and he was forced to resign on August 8, 1974.

The story of “the Saturday Night Massacre” came immediately to mind when I read the headlines of the two major Arizona newspapers on the morning of November 2, 2011.

Governor Jan Brewer, and the GOP-controlled state Senate, fired Colleen Coyle Mathis, who was the chairwoman of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, on the afternoon of November 1. The governor accused Ms. Mathis of “gross misconduct“, which is the only legal way she could have terminated her.

In the year 2000, the Arizona legislature passed Proposition 106, which gave the power for redistricting to an independent panel rather than to the Legislature. Since gerrymandering has been a problem in this country since 1812, it’s a little surprising that it took as long as it did to correct a practice that effectively takes power away from the voters and gives it to the political party that has the majority vote.

To quote Otto von Bismarck, “laws are like sausages … it is better not to see them being made .." In view of that fact, it’s probably amazing that our political system works as well as it does.

Up until very recently, I had lived in the Chicago area for 25 years. In spite of all of the efforts that have been made to clean up political corruption in both Chicago and the State of Illinois, even the “reform Governor” (Rod Blagojevich) was removed from office due to misconduct, and will likely spend at least some time in prison. If you want to see what “gerrymandering” looks like in practice, the map of the 4th congressional district of the State of Illinois will give you a very good idea.

Should Governor Brewer be impeached for her decision regarding Colleen Coyle Mathis? That’s not my decision to make, but next week’s recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce (the first recall election in the history of the State of Arizona) is a sign that the voters are tired of “business as usual” , both at the state and at the national level (the approval rating of the Congress in Washington D.C. is currently at 12%).

The late Joe McCarthy once said, “ if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, then it must be a duck .. “

Although the governor gave a couple of reasons that she felt justified her position (which were quickly refuted by Ms. Mathis), I have to believe that there most be an awful lot of cheese someplace in the Capitol building ..

because I smell a rat.

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