Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Shoots Friend In Face, Self In Foot, Nation In Heart

The White House gang that couldn’t shoot straight, led by that poster-boy for gun safety, Dick Cheney, appears to have nevertheless scored a direct hit on our civil liberties, having shot straight into the heart of our personal conversations and private correspondences. A newly-disclosed program (link expired), existing alongside the illegal wiretapping program being assailed by individuals of conscience on both sides of the political divide, has apparently violated “millions of Americans’” civil rights.

According to the United Press, reports yesterday allege that the Bush administration has systematically engaged in an even more serious and bigger secret spying program than the one we’ve all been hot under the collar about for the past few months. The war on terror has apparently become a war of terror, and friends, I have to say, consider me a casualty. I am terrified.

But not of Osama. I’m terrified of our own home-grown dictators, the Cheneys, Bushes, Poindexters and other power-mad scoundrels who this very day, this very moment, are trawling through our private correspondences, our e-mails and blogs, and listening in on our phone calls (WITHIN U.S. borders, mind you) with no regard for two-hundred-plus years of established civil rights protections. If what this article asserts is true, then we as Americans have far worse enemies than Islamic terrorists, far worse in fact than any we’ve faced in the last sixty years or more.

And they’re sitting in the White House today.

Osama cannot shred the Constitution, but Bush and Cheney can. The Soviets at the zenith of their influence could not export their toxic brand of domestic spying on their own innocent citizens to our shores. But Bush doesn’t need imported tyranny; he has the dictatorship he famously pined for.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Good Dick Hunting

When I wrote on this blog in November, 2005 that the president would cut Dick Cheney loose “sooner or later,” I imagined it would be for the mundane and humdrum reason of inept leadership and a pattern of incompetently leading this country and the world into total paranoid chaos and destruction.

I didn’t dream that it would be the result of a shotgun blast, fired by Deadeye Dick himself, into the face of one of his fabulously well-to-do friends.

I have always believed that truth is stranger than fiction, but when fiction is sold to us every day as truth by the powers that be, with a straight face mind you, I begin to think otherwise. Then there was Sunday’s news.

I am still percolating my exact thoughts on the absurdity of the vice president shooting another man in the face and watching the entire Right-wing spin machine lurching to life like some clattering, wheezing, rusted and exhausted Rube Goldberg apparatus, to spin it somehow away from the obvious fact that this man, like the administration he runs from the passenger seat, is an enormous, incompetent, dangerous fool.

His sneer, carved in his face like an angry parenthesis in a pound of cold butter, remains unshaken. No contrition for this American hero. But then, why would he choose to be contrite now? If the sight of the greatest army in history mired up to its hips in a bloody fool’s errand in the Mideast, with not so much as a teaspoon found of the tons and tons of chemical and nuclear weapons he told us were there, with thousands of U.S. soldiers dead or wounded and a hundred thousand more dead Iraqis besides, didn’t give this man pause for humility, then he is congenitally incapable of feeling anything like remorse or engaging in the merest hint of introspection.

But there’s more for this dangerous trigger-man to contemplate, should he decide to: a ruined American city awash in the dead of the poor, a wealthy nation all but bankrupt, its debt nestled snugly in the pocket of the Red Chinese, the reluctant press finally knee-deep in stories of scandal, illegal wiretapping, and the outing of secret agents.

Dick Cheney has more or less proudly stated that he sought and received five deferments from service in Vietnam because he had “other priorities.” Now it seems he just couldn’t shoot straight.

More to come.

Bang! It’s Dick!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

... And The Dead Shall Rise...

Maybe I've been watching too many vampire movies, or maybe it's just the prolonged exposure to the Bush administration, but for whatever reason, from where I'm standing today it appears that people and ideas long dead and not-so-long dead are rising all around us.

I am not the only one pointing out how alive and well Richard Nixon, Curtis LeMay, J. Edgar Hoover, and good ole Joe McCarthy seem to be today, at least in spirit. As I've said before, Ghandi stays dead, John Lennon stays dead, Abe Lincoln is certainly staying dead - but these avatars of right-wing paranoia and greed seem to be giving up a-moldering in their graves and are springing to the forefront of U.S. policy with alacrity.

Today we read about another resurrection: this time, it's the corpse of President Bush's Social Security privatization scheme, dead for a year or more, that is rising, Phoenix-like, from its ashes.

In what has become a pattern for this administration, everything is done secretly, and in such a way as to minimize the public's awareness of his true intentions. Presumably this is because it has become clear that the nation does not want Mr. Bush's vision of "compassionate conservatism" - bulging pockets at the boardrooms and country clubs of the Fortune 500, nothing left for the rest of us - to become the future of America. Actual care and concern for those in need still seems alive in America, if only barely.

One must delve through three-hundred-plus pages of the president's proposed budget to find the smoking gun, but it's there: private social security accounts, which will divert billions of dollars from the current social security system into privately-managed, for-profit investment plans served up pipin' hot from your friends on Wall Street.

Remember how well big business conservatives did last year at helping poor people in need? One must only flash on your favorite image from New Orleans, awash in the corpses of the poor, to answer this question. Also remember Neocon matriarch Barbara Bush telling us how good these lucky people stranded in New Orleans had it, how they all stood to make out pretty good from this disaster due to her son's compassionate largesse, whereas prior to Katrina they had merely been poor and lazy? This, my friends, was the let-them-eat-cake moment of our times, the accidentally honest comment that tells us what compassion means to real radical right wing "conservatives."

Now forget about the poor, and think about the ever-receding middle class. Switch the faces of Katrina's victims with those of your parents (or your own, if you happen to be a baby boomer). The face in this unhappy tableau is yours, if you happen to wind up unlucky enough later on down the road to need Social Security as an actual means to social security (note the lower-case usage).

When Bush-brand programming for the needs of real Americans is allowed to reach its awful and terrible fruition, it won't just be disenfranchised blacks bobbing belly-up in the noonday sun. It'll be you and me. And I assure you, my big, fat, bearded, bloated, pale corpse will NOT be much to look at on that fateful day.

Don't let it happen. Use your telephone, your computer, or even your feet to let your opinion be heard. And your vocal chords, without which, at sufficient volume, no one will ever even wake up at all - besides the corpses of tyrants and bad ideas.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Terror in the Libraries of the "Safest American City"

Today the Boston Globe presents a column in which the author, Richard L. Cravatts, lambasts the librarian in the Massachusetts suburb of Newton for "protect[ing] terrorists" by insisting that Federal officials secure a search warrant before looking at the records of a suspected bomber who looked at books at her library.

Mr. Cravatts, who appears to be a shill for the Heritage Foundation, a Right-Wing think tank with more axes to grind than a medieval blacksmith, is the latest to equate the protection of constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms with aiding and abetting terrorists. It makes me wonder, do we as a people even deserve the fantastic, historically unique protections our forefathers guaranteed us anymore?

We have a president who literally cannot help himself to keep from lying at every turn (although less in February!), telling us in one speech that, "every time you hear about government wiretapping, that requires a warrant, and nothing's changed (my paraphrase)," while at the very same moment engaging in a wholesale fishing expedition through the citizenry's protected private information looking for any evidence he thinks supports terrorism, in direct contradiction to his phony assurances.

Remember, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is already on record as saying that the reason the White House didn't request greater surveillance power through desired changes to FISA law back on '01 and '02 was that the administration knew Congress would not grant such widespread authority. The choice was made to disregard the process when they knew their assertions of unlimited executive power would not pass muster. When Gonzalez and the rest of the White House racketeers go on trial, this will be a key point: the administration knew they were overreaching, that their conduct was illegal, and they knew they'd be stopped, so they merely proceeded in secret.

This is, quite simply, the most audacious move of any president in the last century, and the greatest constitutional crisis since the South seceeded from the Union in 1861.

Read this op-ed piece. It implies that unless federal authorities can look into anyone's library account, at any moment, for any or no reason at all, we will be blown to smithereens by "terrorists." Not even the Soviets were able to raise our fears to such hysterical heights.

The librarian held the searchers at bay for ten hours while they secured warrants, and the patron's rights were protected, and nothing blew up, except Mr. Cravatts' anger. In a system wherein an accused individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the idea that the patron is simply, with no evidence and no debate, a "terrorist," chills me to the bone.

I go to the library all the time. I don't want anyone's government nosing around in my records and seeing what my private literary tastes are like. Am I now a terrorist because I value my unique, American right to privacy?

How can we be the strongest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known and yet at the same time be so vulnerable to total annihilation that a person reading a book in the nation's safest city is more dangerous than all the machinations of the Soviet Union? Our unique constitutional rights make this country what it is, and even fifty years of Communism couldn't crack the sanctity of the Bill of Rights. Not that paranoid Right-Wingers didn't try, again and again, to fight their perceived enemies by becoming more and more like them.

Think about it. Then go to your local library in Newton, or Springfield, or Kansas City, or Duluth, or Richmond, or wherever you are reading this, and check out a book of your choice.

While you still can.