On a Salon.com article reprinted from the LA Review of Books on how -- belatedly -- we should realize how Progressive Nixon was
I was around as an adult when Nixon was president, even knew about his quiet campaign promise to Wall Street groups that he would keep the Vietnam war going long enough for companies to amortize the expense of re-tooling for military production. (It was his SECRET PLAN.)
But ironically, I only realized what good Nixon had done in environmental matters when Ronald Reagan was gutting every environmental protection on the books (with his Secty of Interior James "Jesus is coming back so we need to use it all up" Watt) and when each unkind cut was reported, it was mentioned that it had been signed into law by Richard Nixon.
So good for him.
Unfortunately, he also created the DEA -- transformed a White House informational department into a Godzilla-class monster that grew from a small outfit doing $75 million a year to nearly 5,000 Special Agents and a budget of $2.02 billion at the end of the Bush-Cheney Show in 2008.
Nixon understood that while the feds couldn't prosecute people for having the wrong sort of political ideals (other than communism or anarchism or anything like it), they could -- and did -- bust anyone with the wrong political ideals AND a lid of grass.
Since then, every police force in America knows that, while they can't keep the cars, the gold, the weapons, the planes, the houses, and all the rest of the goodies they seize in a drug bust, they can turn them over to the DEA and the DEA in turn, will give them some sort of equivalent of federal money for "drug enforcement."
Still works today -- and the racial aspect of drug busts definitely exists, but mostly because it's a way to continue the monstrously huge money - maker without making the good white folk have to worry about their own rights being crushed.
The drug-enforcement-prison complex is pretty much as profitable as the Military-industrial one -- or maybe it's just another part of the same thing. Either way -- there's waay too much money involved in busting dopers and building prisons, too many people dependent on all those jobs, too much profit in "legitimate" pharmaceuticals for anyone in political office to go up against it.
In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the philosopher Nietzsche said: "Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful" and it was a pretty good and useful warning -- so how much more so when that impulse to punish is so damned profitable?
Nixon progressive? There is evidence he once spoke in favor of such things, but those things didn't get him elected to the Big Captain's Chair, so he went the other way... or as Attorney General John Mitchell -- the man Richard Nixon selected and put in charge of national law enforcement -- as Mitchell said most gleefully in a put-down to a Liberal reporter --- "This country's going so far to the right you won't be able to recognize it."
It's only because that's actually happened that anyone would look back toward Nixon and think of him as having been Progressive.
The environmental protections he signed into law are all gone.
But a nation destroying itself in order to stop people from playing with their own reality --- that's Nixon's legacy.
(I remember driving down the coast road the day of Nixon's funeral, listening to the live report on the radio. And the reporter's surprise when -- on a clear day -- the sky became dark and clouded and there was thunder. And all I could think to say to the late Mr. Nixon, thinking of the pain and deaths he caused, not only by extending that war for so many more years, but by destroying so lives in so many of the ways a chickenshit, terrified man could come up with, all I could say was: "Hey -- don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way down to Hell."
By the end of his hard hungry road to power, he was barely even human.