Moot Court: Harriet, Jughead and Judicial Jokery

This is an expanded version of the column published in the Oct. 7 edition of The Moscow Times. For annotations and sources, see the Times version here.

Last week, George W. Bush filled the final vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court – and right on cue, all the knee-jerk Bush-bashers were up in arms, sputtering the usual objections: Unqualified crony! Right-wing apparatchik! Fawning, groveling Bush Family factotum! Wheel-greasing goon in high-priced threads!

Poor little dissident lambkins. They must be the only people left in the United States who still take the country's governance seriously. For it's obvious that the nation's political elite – whatever party label they happen to wear – do not. No ruling class that was actually serious about governing would ever countenance the pair of jokers whom Bush has foisted on what is supposed to be the ultimate guarantor of law in the land. Yet the first bad joke sailed through with bipartisan support and the second is bound to follow. Clearly this is an Establishment in the throes of nervous breakdown, collapsing in a fit of hysteria-induced giggles while a pack of ruthless thugs loot the store and burn down the house.

For its sheer brazen mockery of the judicial system, Bush's nomination of his personal lawyer Harriet Miers to the high court outdoes the installation of hard-right knee-capper John "Jughead" Roberts as Chief Justice. Jughead spent most of his early career trying to screw the poor and the dark-skinned out of whatever meagre rights and protections they had won after hundreds of years of slavery, exclusion and savage repression. He really made his bones, however, with his stalwart service in the Busha Nostra's shutdown of the Florida recount in 2000. For this, Jug was elevated to the federal appeals court, where – while he was negotiating for the Supreme slot – he upheld Bush's imperial right to "disappear" anyone on earth into his own rigged system of military tribunals.

Miers, who has zero judicial experience, is cut from the same cloth. Bush first hired Miers to dig into his own past and bury the skeletons she found there as he limbered up for his presidential run in the 1990s, AP reports. Miers delivered the goods, brokering a convoluted $23 million payoff to former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes and his business partner. Barnes said he'd used political pull to get young war-coward Georgie into the National Guard back in the Vietnam day, the Washington Post reports. With payoff in hand, the whistleblower's memory suddenly became all fuzzy. Miers was also instrumental in wangling Bush out of a jury duty assignment: the standard jury questionnaire would have revealed the drunk driving conviction that Bush had hidden for more than 20 years, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. (Yes, Bush is the first convicted criminal ever elected – or in this case, selected – as president.)

Miers – an ex-Catholic turned hardcore Protestant evangelical – has broader experience, of course. She was the managing partner of a high-powered Texas law firm that, under her gentle Christian guidance, paid out more than $30 million in two separate cases of helping corporate clients defraud their investors, The Huffington Post reports. At the firm, Miers also walked in Our Saviour's footsteps by specializing in union-busting and gutting worker safety protections. As the firm's prospectus proudly noted: "We defend [safety and injury] claims of any type, including multiple death cases." If you accidentally fed a few of your coolies into the company wood-chipper, no worries: Holy Harriet and her crew would have your back. (continued)

After defrauding investors and backing corporate killers, Miers moved to the White House, where, as the Los Angeles Times reports, she became Bush's chief gatekeeper for his most important briefings, including the August 6, 2001 number entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." – you know, the explicit, hair-raising report that somehow lulled the entire Bush team into a warm, comfy sleep until September 11. According to Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman, Miers then became "heavily involved in the War on Terror" that followed those fortuitous attacks. ("Through my tears, I see opportunity," as Bush declared repeatedly in those palmy days of 90 percent approval ratings).
This week Mehlman has been on the horn to Bush's hard-right "base" (although we prefer the more eloquent Arabic term for this loyal band: "al Qaeda"), assuring them that Miers "will not interfere with the administration's management of the War on Terrorism," The Hill reports. He said Miers believes that neither the courts nor Congress should "micromanage" the Terror War, i.e., put fetters on the unrestrained powers of the Commander-in-Chief to kill, incarcerate and torture whom he sees fit. This is particularly important now, as the revelations of blood-soaked atrocity in Bush's prisons have grown so mountainous and foul that even the rubber-stamps in the Senate were forced this week to approve a cosmetic and meaningless measure to set guidelines for interrogating captives. (The bill leaves a gaping black hole for unregulated CIA interrogations, however, and will in any case be killed or watered down to even thinner gruel by the more zealous Bushist cadres in the House.)

In fact, as White House counsel, Miers "provided the president with guidance on the legal parameters" for the Terror War, Mehlman told the faithful. In other words, Miers helped draw up the "justifications" for torture, rendition and aggressive war which she will now be ruling upon at the Supreme Court. Oh, there'll be a hot time in the old gulag when Harriet joins Jughead on the bench!

But who cares? Most of the wiggly, giggly Democratic "opposition" – which sent Jughead over the top with a big bipartisan cushion – is already rolling over and playing dead for Miers; in fact, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid actually recommended that Bush appoint this torture-enabling, worker-whipping political fixer to the nation's highest court. The whole American leadership class has given up democratic government for the brutal absurdities of junta rule: cronyism, conquest, corruption and moral collapse.