John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, writes about politics for The Nation as its national-affairs correspondent. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books, and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
Nichols is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and dozens of other newspapers.
Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald’s documentary Outfoxed, and in Joan Sekler’s Unprecedented, Matt Kohn’s Call It Democracy, and Robert Pappas’s Orwell Rolls in His Grave. The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences, and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA], and dozens of other organizations.
Nichols is the author of The Genius of Impeachment (New Press); a critically acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (New Press); and a best-selling biography of former vice president Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: “At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift—a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history—that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country.”
With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books It’s the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories), Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press), The Death and Life of American Journalism (Nation Books), Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street (Nation Books), and their latest, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (Nation Books, March 2016). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, a media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.
Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: “Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols’s sword is the sharpest.” (Photo by Robin Holland / Bill Moyers Journal)
As Attorney General Alberto Gonzales prepares to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, the official question is: Will the former White House counsel be able to talk himself out of a scandal involving the firing of US Attorneys, the politicization of federal prosecutions, Karl Rove's "lost" e-mails and the little matter of lying to Congress?
But that's not the question that matters.
Gonzales is finished. The best he can accomplish is a stay of execution that would allow him to remain at the Department of Justice until the controversy dies down enough for him to quietly slip out the back door late on one of those Friday afternoons when the Bush administration gets rid of its embarrassments. Were Gonzales to be allowed to remain in his position through the remainder of Bush's term, it would make America over as a land without laws or even the barest sense of propriety.
The burgeoning congressional focus on the supposedly "missing" emails of White House political czar Karl Rove and almost two dozen other presidential aides who were doing political work on the taxpayers' dime is not limited to questions about the eight U.S. Attorneys who were fired after at least some of them reportedly failed to politicize their prosecutions.
A new letter issued by key members of the House Judiciary Committee specifically expresses concerns that push the inquiry beyond the eight to look at the potential that some of the 85 U.S. Attorneys who were not fired may have been kept on because they used their powers in a manner that pleased Rove and his minions.
While working in the White House, Rove and at least 21 other aides used computer accounts set up by the Republican National Committee to allow them to do political work from their federal offices.
The US Attorneys scandal seems to be turning an important new page every day. And today it turned what can best be referred to as the "Rose Mary Woods" page.
Rose Mary Woods was the longtime secretary to Richard Nixon who as a fiercely loyal employee of the president in the waning days of the Watergate crisis claimed in grand jury testimony that she had inadvertently created at least part of an 18 1/2 minute gap a White House audio tape that had become central to the investigation of presidential wrongdoing.
"The Rose Mary Woods Defense" proved to be a tough sell in 1974, failing to close off congressional inquiries that would eventually lead to votes by the House Judiciary Committee in favor of articles of impeachment against Nixon.
The question of whether any of the 85 U.S. Attorneys who were not fired by the Bush administration may have engaged in political prosecutions blew open Tuesday, when key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded files pertaining to a botched prosecution in Wisconsin.
Committee chair Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and five other senators have asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for documents dealing with the case of a Wisconsin state employee who was tried in a case that played out during the course of the 2006 gubernatorial race in that state. Republicans used the prosecution as part of a television attack campaign aimed at defeating Democratic Governor James Doyle.
U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic obtained an election-season conviction of the state employee, Georgia Thompson, on charges that she steered a state contract to a Doyle donor. But a federal appeals court last week overturned that conviction with a stinging decision that complained about a lack of evidence. One of the appeals court judges said Biskupic's case was "beyond thin."
The real story of the U.S. Attorneys scandal that has so endangered the tenure of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is not that of the eight fired prosecutors. It is that of the 85 U.S. Attorneys around the country who were not let go.
There is mounting evidence that the Bush administration was pressuring U.S. attorneys to politicize their prosecutions prior to the 2006 elections, on the apparent theory that stirring up trouble for Democrats in battleground states might ease concerns about abuses by White House aides, former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, former California Congressman Duke Cunningham and the various and sundry GOP solons who had been linked to no-longer-so-super lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
And it certainly looks as if some of the U.S. Attorneys who refused to bow to the pressure to mount prosecutions that might embarrass Democrats were removed from their positions because of their regard for the rule of law.
Just imagine if one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination endorsed this radical agenda:
â€¢ End the use of military commissions to prosecute crimes.
â€¢ Prohibit the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture.
George Bush's presidency has been distinguished by nothing so much as his consistent disregard for the Constitution. He wages war without required Congressional declarations. He orders spying that is in direct conflict with the 4th Amendment. He permits tortures and extraordinary renditions that violate the 8th Amendment,
Above all, the President disregards the basic requirement of shared governance. He shows little respect for the separation of powers, let alone for the system of checks and balances that requires Congress to participate in domestic and foreign-policy decision making.
Bush's anti-Constitutionalism was on full display today, as he echoed claims by his aides that it is somehow inappropriate for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to travel to Syria--a county the White House has tried, with almost no success, to isolate from the international community.
Memo to Fox Fanatics and All Other Defenders of Alberto Gonzales: Your Partisanship is Showing.
Fox News and its talk radio echoes, led by Rush Limbaugh, are among the staunchest defenders of the scandal-plagued Attorney General.
But that defense is not based on conservative values or ideas. Rather, it is a "my-president-right-or-wrong" rallying around an embattled Bush administration. This is old-school, maximum-leader politics, of a sort that places loyalty to a man over loyalty to the truth or to the Republic.