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Watergate Becomes Sore Point at Nixon Library

Officials at the National Archives have curated a searing recollection of the Watergate scandal, based on videotaped interviews with 150 associates of Richard M. Nixon, an interactive exhibition that was supposed to have opened on July 1. But the Nixon Foundation — a group of Nixon loyalists who controlled this museum until the National Archives took it over three years ago — described it as unfair and distorted, and requested that the archives not approve the exhibition until its objections are addressed.(emphasis mine)

The foundation went so far as to invoke Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, noting that those presidents surreptitiously taped White House conversations before Nixon stepped on the scene.

Bob Bostock, a former Nixon aide who designed the original Watergate exhibit and has been enlisted by the foundation to challenge the installation, filed a 132-page letter of objection to the archives last week, claiming that the exhibit lacked the context needed to help young visitors learning about Watergate to understand exactly what Nixon did.

Taping and wiretapping go back as far as F.D.R.,” Mr. Bostock said. “It lacks the context it needs: that Nixon was not the first president to do some of these things and that some of these things had been going on with many of his predecessors, in some cases, much more than he did.”

Time for another moment of reflection of the ironies of that anti-American values movement called Conservatism. As we have Paul Ryan (R-WI) launching yet another stealth attack on  Medicare, Social Security and the middle-class. Tea nuts raging on about dismantling government and state secession to form federalists states, we the tax payers via the National Archives are forced to support a wing-nut museum and it’s promulgation of Con revisionist history, because it could not support itself as a private enterprise.

“I worked for Mr. Nixon during the last five years of his life,” Mr. Bostock said. “Definitely the president did things that were wrong. He said so himself. The real question always comes to, Did the actions that he took that were wrong, did they merit impeachment and removal from my office? My view is that they did not reach the level of offenses for which he could be impeached and convicted.” (emphasis mine)

This good blogger is a little upset that Adam Nagourney let the Watergate was all about wiretapping meme go unchallenged,

The president’s men, sometimes at Nixon’s instructions, sometimes with his knowledge, and sometimes perhaps without his direct instructions or knowledge but always in keeping with his general orders to his stop staff, also planted spies in the camp of Democratic campaigns; broke into Democratic headquarters, photographed documents, and planted bugs; broke into the the office of a Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in order to learn things that could be used to destroy his image in the press; attempted to plant left-wing materials in the home of the guy who shot George Wallace; planned to (and perhaps did) selectively leak classified materials about foreign policy in order to hurt the Democrats; forged materials about foreign policy (the death of South Vietnam’s President Diem) in order to plant false stories in the press that would hurt the Democrats; wiretapped government officials; paid a private investigator to tail Ted Kennedy; performed other dirty tricks such as forged letters intended to manipulate the Democratic presidential nomination process (efforts that may indeed have been successful); and other illegal, abuse and unethical actions — this is not a comprehensive list.

Those were the original crimes.  What followed was obstruction of justice as the White House, with the active leadership of the president, lied to FBI investigators and grand juries, destroyed evidence, suborned perjury by prearranging false testimony; suborned perjury by paying off witnesses and either promising or at least hinting at the promise of presidential pardons in exchange for false testimony, and using the authority of the presidency to derail and undermine FBI investigators and prosecutors.  Again, the president was personally actively involved in all of those things.

As A plain blog about politics notes Nixon’s impeachment was a done deal. The House Judiciary Committee had voted in favor of impeachment. The articles of impeachment are on-line. Just a snip,

On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.

The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following:

1. making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

2. withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

3. approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;

4. interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;

5. approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities;

6. endeavouring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;

7. disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States, for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability;

8. making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: or

9. endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Bostocks’ idolatry of a criminal is not an uncommon conservative trait . After reading all three articles of impeachment the only argument that could be presented in Nixon’s defense is that is was a conservative president and when a Republican presidents breaks the law its legal. An argument Nixon himself made. Watergate was not just about wiretaps or the break-in at the hotel for which the scandal is named. Watergate is an umbrella term for a vast assortment of blatantly criminal activity and various attempts at covering up those crimes. Nixon even manged to drag the CIA into it all, CIA Releases Files On Past Misdeeds – Assassination Plots, Domestic Spying Cited

Prompted by the then-unraveling Watergate affair, and by fears that CIA involvement in that scandal would be exposed along with other illegal operations, the agency combed its files for what it called “delicate” information with “flap potential.” The result was a collection of documents the CIA called the “family jewels.”

While anyone concerned about the constant attempts at revisionism of the Bush 43 years should continue to keep the record straight, his supporters attempts to polish up the Bush legacy for history are doomed. In another 25 years we’ll  – if all goes as it should –  have another document dump of the “family jewels”. Bush and the neocons will look just as bad as they do now only with more damning evidence.


Megan McArdle Defends Paul Ryan’s Flimflamming

Is Paul Ryan a Flimflam Man? Megan McArdle say it ain’t so,

While I remain skeptical that anything like the Roadmap is politically possible, Paul Ryan is doing exactly what any sensible congressional sponsor with limited access to CBO time does; he’s saying “Well, when this is getting close to being an actual bill, we’ll work with the CBO and the JCT to tweak the tax rates in order to provide the amount of revenue we need.” This is entirely normal.

Ryan’s plan will not work. Not the one he had scored. The push back amounts to we meant well even though not all the details are there and we can haggle over the rest. The rest being how to generate revenue. Asking the CBO to assume numbers that they do not account for increased costs. How To Spot A Flimflammer

Think about that CBO report: getting the CBO to score only the spending cuts, not the tax proposals, then taking credit for being a big deficit reducer, is simply sleazy. Not acknowledging that the zero nominal growth assumption, not the entitlement changes, is driving that 2020 score is also sleazy. And the whole pose of stern deficit hawk, when you know that there are real questions about whether your plan actually increases the deficit, is phoniness of a high order.

And about that Tax Policy Center report: it has been five months since that came out. Has Ryan tried, at all, to address the concerns the center raised? As far as I can tell, he’s offered nothing but vague assurances of good intentions. Why should we believe him? Because he comes across as a nice guy? So did Bush.

Flimflamming is as flimflamming does. And Paul Ryan shows all the signs.

Con artists are frequently charming and believable. As a matter of fact those qualities are basics to the flimflam tool kit. Without them you’ll only be able to con the truly gullible. This is what Megan and Paul Ryan’s beloved Tax Policy Center said in reply to Krugman’s original column, In Defense of Congressman Paul Ryan ( the same defense repeated on many right-wing sites)

On the spending side, Congressman Ryan’s plan achieves these substantial reductions in our long-term debt through such things as progressive reductions in Social Security benefits, increases in the eligibility age for Medicare, and the replacement of Medicare benefits with a voucher starting in 2021 (with an average initial voucher value for 65-year-olds of $5,900 in 2010 dollars).

On the revenue side, Ryan has proposed creating an alternative income tax system that has two marginal tax rates, eliminates most deductions and credits, and exempts all interest, dividends, and capital gains from the individual income tax.  Filers would get to choose between the existing income tax and the new system.  Ryan would also replace the corporate income tax with a business consumption tax (essentially a value-added tax).

All said as boring matter of fact. Nothing on the particulars like the consequences of, say Ryan’s cuts to Medicare – will need to either cut back on how comprehensive their insurance is ( the new insurance Ryan will push them into with his vouchers) or how much health-care they purchase. Ryan’s tax cuts would be the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy once again floated on the backs of cuts to services for the middle-class. This right-wing fetish for rewarding wealth has no rhyme or reason. The wealthy stay wealthy regardless of which party is in power. The justification for cuddling the wealthy is trickle down theory: The wealthy will not invest in business if their tax rates go up 3 percent. We tried that and we’re now in the Great Recession. The Bush era conservative management of the economy costs the nation 3 trillion dollars. Once again we have a conservative to libertarian columnist either hoping you don’t read the TPC report or she did not read the whole thing,

TPC did analyze Ryan’s tax-specific proposals and found they would fall short of this revenue goal.  For example, Ryan’s proposal would lead to federal tax revenue of approximately 16 percent of GDP, which amounts to a $4 trillion revenue shortfall over ten years compared to the alternative fiscal scenario.  But that doesn’t mean that Ryan’s plan is a fraud. Instead, it shows that Ryan’s vision of broad-based tax reform, which essentially would shift us toward a consumption tax, needs to be adjusted in order to meet his stated goal of matching historical levels of revenue as a proportion of GDP. This indeed poses a challenge to Congressman Ryan to make specific changes to his tax reform plan in order to meet his revenue goal.

If Ryan’s lack of revenue details is not a flimflam than it’s cowardly. It looks like a bit of both.

One wild card last ditch attempt to defend Ryan came from a commenter at one site who said we should ignore the details because forecasts are like so hard dude. We should all agree on some general principles. Would that be something like spending and revenue have to line up? Where were people like that from 2000 to 2008. Ryan was in Congress and Dick Cheney was saying deficits don’t matter.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has, however, stepped into the breach. Its numbers indicate that the Ryan plan would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade. If you add these revenue losses to the numbers The Post cites, you get a much larger deficit in 2020, roughly $1.3 trillion.

And that’s about the same as the budget office’s estimate of the 2020 deficit under the Obama administration’s plans. That is, Mr. Ryan may speak about the deficit in apocalyptic terms, but even if you believe that his proposed spending cuts are feasible — which you shouldn’t — the Roadmap wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich.

Ryan is just George Bush in a tighter suit. Worship the ground the wealthy walk on, give the middle and working class another shaft.