“One strange thing about Watergate, the scandal that led Richard Nixon to resign as president, is that 50 years later we still don’t know who ordered the core crime or why.
This was the crime: On June 17, 1972, a squad of five bagmen, all with at least past connections to the CIA, broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the Watergate office building. They were supervised by James McCord, director of security for Nixon’s reelection committee.”
“The most obvious and common speculation is that the burglars were trying to steal political intelligence from DNC chair Larry O’Brien for the Nixon campaign’s benefit. But anyone knowledgeable about how presidential campaigns work would know that any political intelligence worth stealing had already moved to the headquarters of Democratic nominee George McGovern. The party’s national headquarters doesn’t have much to do at that point except to put on the convention, and O’Brien had already moved to Miami to take charge of that. His office in the Watergate was vacant and ghostly.
Besides, the burglars were caught bugging the telephone not of O’Brien but of a minor party official named Spencer Oliver, a man whose duties kept him out on the road most of the time and away from his phone—a fact that has engendered some fascinatingly strange speculation”
“Five decades later, despite 30,000 pages of declassified FBI investigative reports, 16,091 pages of Senate hearing transcripts, 740 pages of White House tape transcriptions, and scores of histories of the scandal and memoirs by its participants, we still know more about the cover-up than we do about the break-in.”
“The most interesting information to emerge from the Watergate investigation, and certainly the most legally actionable, came not from journalists via Felt-like leaks but from other parts of the FBI and, indirectly, from the Senate’s investigation, which stumbled onto the fact that Nixon had a secret taping system that picked up most of his conversations with his most intimate advisers.
While the media gabbled about what kind of paranoid loon would do such a thing, every president going back to Franklin Roosevelt had taped at least some of his conversations. Nixon had actually disconnected the White House recording equipment when he entered office. He relented in 1971, evidently thinking tapes would help him write memoirs of what he expected to be an epic presidency. Instead, he sealed his own doom, creating 3,432 hours of tape that turned what otherwise would have been uncorroborated he-said/he-said conversations into smoking guns.
The tapes also yielded no end of fascinating insights into the president’s positions on everything from Catholicism (“You know what happened to the popes? They were layin’ the nuns”) to Northern California sociology (“The upper class in San Francisco…is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine….I can’t shake hands with anybody from San Francisco”).”
“Reconsidering those events and the mysteries still surrounding them can help us see government for what it really is: not a holy calling besmirched by a uniquely sinister Richard Nixon, but a generally lowly site of struggle for personal and institutional power. The bad guys may not always get away with their crimes, but the government is so thick with secrecy and omerta that we can’t always be sure we know what they are up to—not at the time, and not even 50 years later.”
Donald Trump On Paying Supporter’s Legal Fees Meet The Press. 3 14 2016. NBC News. A look back at Trump comments perceived by some as inciting violence Libby Cathey and Meghan Keneally. 5 30 2020. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/back-trump-comments-perceived-encouraging-violence/story?id=48415766 Presidents Have Declared Dozens
“America’s system of checks and balances requires unusual and even extraordinary levels of consensus to pass legislation. First, you need the agreement of the House, the Senate, the White House, and, increasingly, the Supreme Court.
More granularly, congressional power is diffused across committees. The Senate has built in a supermajority requirement, known as the filibuster, which effectively raises the threshold for passage from 51 votes to 60 votes.
This raises the question: If the problem is embedded in the structure of the US government, how did the US ever do anything big? The short answer is that for most of our political history, two unusual conditions held. First, the parties were ideologically mixed, which made compromise easier. Second, one party was usually electorally dominant, which gave the party in the minority a reason to compromise: If you can’t win, you may as well deal.
Both those conditions have dissolved. America’s political parties are more ideologically — and demographically — polarized than ever before. We’re also in the most competitive period American politics has ever seen. In a system like that, both sides utilize the system’s bias toward inaction to foil their opponents. You can see this in the rise of the filibuster over time. The rule has been around almost as long as America, but it’s only been deployed as an omnipresent veto in recent decades”
“The result is a system biased toward inaction.”
” This is representative democracy at its worst: A democracy that only represents those who know to show up at meetings most people never hear about, and so ends up handing power to special interests and aggrieved NIMBYs.”
“some of Andreessen’s examples really can’t be blamed on the government, at least not in a traditional sense.
America doesn’t have more ICU beds because hospitals have budgets to balance. You can’t both run a profitable hospital and maintain enough spare capacity for a once-in-a-century pandemic.
Similarly, the companies that make ventilators are private companies. They didn’t make more ventilators because there wasn’t demand for more ventilators. Same goes for surgical masks, eye shields, hospital gowns. Now, you can argue the government should’ve been stockpiling more of this stuff all along — and definitely should have been ramping up production in January and February — but a capitalist logic of efficiency prevails both inside and outside the market.
Take, for instance, the wildly successful Obama administration program to loan money to renewable energy companies that became infamous because one of those companies, Solyndra, was a bust. That program led to a slew of successes (including Tesla) and turned a profit to taxpayers. As Michael Lewis argues at length in his book The Fifth Risk, the problem, if anything, was that it was too cautious — so afraid of a Solyndra-like story that it wasn’t funding sufficiently risky investments. But they proved right to be afraid.
If even the government is forced to turn a constant profit on its programs and to avoid anything that might look like a boondoggle, you can imagine the pressure actual private companies are under.”