Soft On Crime: Deterrence, The Death Penalty, and George Bush

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

For all of my fifty years on the planet the Republicans have been the party of crime and punishment. Republicans were tough on crime, Democrats were Soft on Crime. From Nixon onward, this has been a major line of attack against all Democrats. Democrats coddled criminals like Willie Horton, for instance, while Republicans would have locked him up for life….or put him to death.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the administration of Republican President Richard Nixon continued the full-on attack against crime begun by Johnson — but with an emphasis on law and order. Nixon’s policy, however, came under attack, largely from liberals, who saw Nixon’s law and order campaign as attempts to put down civil rights activists and antiwar demonstrators. President Nixon, on the other hand, used the rising public sentiment that criminals were out of control and city streets unsafe to assail members of the Democrat Party as being “soft on crime.”

Though many Liberals support it too, the Republicans have always been the party of the death penalty as well. By far the most used argument being that facing the ‘punishment’ of death will deter people from killing others. The death penalty deters murder. Stiff sentences deter crime. Three Strike laws deter career criminals. It is not inaccurate to say that ‘Soft on Crime’ and deterrence through harsh punishment and penalty was one of the Right Wings great themes of the late 20th Century.

Republicans are tough on crime. Because being tough on crime….prevents future crimes. If you do not harshly punish crime, it just leads to more and greater crimes.

Which brings us to George Bush….and the various and sundry crimes that he and the officials of his administration have committed. And make no mistake, crimes HAVE been committed. From outting an entire CIA network, to the 269 War Crimes that have been documented to the outright confessions of Bush on Domestic Spying and Cheney on authorizing the torture program and the resulting homicides, there can be no doubt left that there is plenty of cause for, at the very least, a thorough investigation. In fact you see very little if any questions as to whether Bush and company have committed crimes. The debate now is over what to do about them.

Virtually none of the comments I have seen opposing the idea of appointing a Special Prosecutor to even investigate the crimes of the last eight years have centered on guilt or ignorance. Every piece of punditry, comment and column has centered not on the criminality and the crimes themselves….but on the politics of the situation. Not the crimes…not the victims. And certainly not what it means to be an American in an America that tortures. They do not want to think about that….they do not want to know. And so they dimish it to a “political matter” and refer to the false meme of “criminalizing politics” ….rather than as the politicization of a War Crime.

Some say it is revenge, not justice, that is the motivation for a Special Prosecutor. Is prosecuting crime, any crime, and punishing crime, any crime….just revenge? What about merely investigating whether crimes have been committed or not, is that revenge too? Or is it being….tough on crime?

The Democrats have certainly lived up to their reputation over the last two years of Congress, willfully ignoring the Bush Administration crimes even with the preponderance of evidence of those crimes staring them in the face and continually raised on the blogs and even in the Corporate Media. They have been soft on crime. Stunningly,amazingly, and incredibly frustratingly soft. While as much as admitting that they were intentionally ignoring these crimes (despite some pro forma posturing, which only served to acknowledge that they knew of them) solely for political advantage in the 2008 election.

But what of the Republicans, the Crime and Punishment Party, the Tough on Crime Party?

Of course we in Left Blogistan expect that level of gross hypocrisy from the Republicans after the last decade or so. This is just one more exposure of their patent dishonesty, but it does bring up one final piece of the puzzle of why their is so much resistance to any form of justice….even an investigation.

Class Warfare, for being “tough on crime” has no relation to White Collar crime or political crimes committed by Republicans. (Of course if a Dem form the Lower Classes lies about his sex life….) Being tough on crime means protecting members of the upper class from members of the lower class. And particularly of course, as the Party of Racial Backlash, protecting Whites from people of color.

This is where eight years of the slow steady drip of Republicanism has brought us. A level of Jingoism, fear of Authority, and the reinforcement and codification of White and Upper Class privilege to the point where absolutely ANYTHING can be ignored….even the most heinous crimes that humans can commit against each other….if the ‘right people’ commit those crimes.

It is this ‘confusion’ that colors and obstructs what should be an easy decision. Crimes HAVE been committed, have been admitted to, with only legal obfuscation and the insulation of power and privilege to shield the criminals. Those in power are being granted greater rights than the rest of the citizenry. If they are granted greater rights….that means that We The People have lesser rights. Why? And by whose Authority?

That is what makes this such an important part of the larger societal struggle that we are engaged in. There can be no equal rights, no equal economic rights, no equal civil rights, no equal rights at all, and thus no true equality in our society and in the world at large…as long as one Class of people are held above the Law. And as always, the saddest and most tragic part of this drama is all of the people of the “lower” classes who have been hoodwinked into acting and supporting acts that perpetuate this poisoned system in which we currently live. Until we as a society change that, there will be no deep meaningful “change” in this world.

In many important ways, this struggle is just starting anew. The Republicans have successfully destroyed themselves, for now. The steady drip of their poisonous ideology has been slowed. We now have the opportunity to start moving forward, instead of slowly sliding backwards. One first step is….

Signing The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes.

Joining the Facebook Group.

And going to to support having this question answered.

“Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”

-Bob Fertik, New York City  

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  1. Photobucket

    Where IS the line?

  2. … is definitely:

    the politicization of a War Crime.

    The line between revenge and justice is the rule of law.  Or, as the badge says, a “fair trial.”

    Frankly, I don’t know any punishment or revenge that could make up for what these criminals have done, so I stopped thinking along the lines of revenge a long time ago.

    Great essay.

    • Edger on January 4, 2009 at 12:39 am

    I mean, there’s no point in being soft on them now, is there? It might upset republicans.

  3. See?  Punishment is only for the “little people.”  (h/t Leona Helmsley)

    feh  A pox on all of them.

  4. to take Republican talking points literally and to try to apply them to unintended people.  “Being tough on crime” really means “we’ll arrest a disproportionate number of African Americans and Latin@s and imprison them far from home.”   “We’ll build a fence on the border” really means “we want 15 million undocumented workers and their families deported even if it would create an even greater economic disaster.”  It never, ever, meant that a Republican (are you listening to me Ted Stevens? Larry Craig?) should be arrested and tried for crimes.  These are politicians, not criminals.  Nixon was all for punishment, until it came his turn.  And so it will be with GWB and his posse.

    They didn’t mean it when they said it, or if they did, they didn’t mean what you thought they said, it was really just a dog whistle, and now you want to apply it to them?  The nerve.

    • RUKind on January 4, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Police balk at ticketing marijuana offenders

    Massachusetts officially decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana yesterday, but many police departments across the state were essentially ignoring the voter-passed law, saying they would not even bother to ticket people they see smoking marijuana.

    But wait, it gets better. For those who still live in police states, we have this:

    More fundamentally, they complain that officers have no way of determining the identity of people they stop on the street for smoking marijuana. Before the law was changed, officers could arrest them, or threaten them with arrest to force them to show identification. Now, they say they cannot force users to show IDs, and cannot arrest them if they refuse to identify themselves. And they say there is no penalty if a marijuana user gives a false name to a police officer.

    “Many of them are saying that until the law gets straightened out, we’re not going to let our people waste their time chasing their tails on this,” Collins said.

    Imagine that. In Bush/Cheney America if a MA cop catches you hanging off a 27 gram spliff you can just make up some name for his $100 fine and he can’t demand ID. which leads to one possible scenario:

    A legally married gay couple is stopped for sharing a joint on Boston Common. They can declare themselves as George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney and there’s nothing the cop can do except to give them tickets in those names. Same for lesbian couples named Don(na) Rumsfeld and Condi Rice.

    Massachusetts: “We’re not often right but we’ve never been wrong.”

    BTW, saw an e-mail from the Pen that says the War Crime issue is now numero uno and climbing. Keep piling on – every day and in every way.


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