Attorney and Salon contributor Greenwald (Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics, 2008, etc.) exposes the collapse of the checks-and-balances system that was supposed to protect America from tyrants and dictators.
When the executive, judicial and legislative branches collude to avoid enforcement, lawlessness is the end result; it’s what happens when presidents say, “we want to look forward as opposed to looking backward,” allowing the last administration to get away with murder (often literally). The author cites the many instances of those who were guilty but walked free: from the Teapot Dome scandal to Iran Contra, to pardons for Nixon, Weinberger and Libby. Business as usual continued with Barack Obama, who ignored the machinations of the Bushes in favor of “looking forward.” The peddling of influence is nourished by the lobbyists and PACs, and financiers are bailed out for causing the economy to tank, instead of being jailed. They know that high-risk investments hold risk for the taxpayers, never for them; the government is right there with their parachute. Greenwald points out that offenders are protected not only by each other, but also by the press, which is supposed to be the public’s watchdog. Meanwhile, the middle and lower classes can expect long-term imprisonment for even the least of crimes. And now that prisons-for-profit are part of the mix, look for more and stricter sentencing guidelines.
Greenwald lets no one off the hook in demonstrating the vast differences in legal recourse between rich and poor, powerful and weak—would that he had more solutions.