my pissant two cents

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

we're going to need a bigger boat....

the machinations of the bush administration, version 2.0, are getting pretty scary. voices of reason, responsibility and rationality are getting cast overboard like chum, while the sharks are being brought on board to run the ship of state.

sharper minds than mine have been onto this for a while now. see, for example,, "the peter principle and the neocon coup." but the sheer arrogance of the actions has me in a near-frenzy. the president and his henchpeople are getting rid of anyone who hasn't been completely on point-- i.e., acting in complete disregard for the facts-- and replacing them with zealots. it's a special kind of fundamentalism, where reasonable minds are not allowed to disagree. in the bush administration, disagreement is disloyalty. but the most fearful aspect is the setting in place of a team that espouses unfettered presidential power, secrecy, and unaccountability.

let's deal first with john ashcroft, who was in fact on board, but stepped down from his post as attorney general. ashcroft appears to be angling for a supreme court slot, if his speech last week is any indication. in case you missed it, ashcroft, a confederacy apologist and christian extremist, told a conference of conservative lawyers that the courts are getting in the way of the administration's goals. his argument is, the courts, which are charged by article 3 of the constitution to determine what exactly the law is and whether it comports with the constitution, thus providing a check on executive and legislative power, ought not be determining whether the president can do as he pleases in the war on terror.

the executive branch has constitutional authority to wage war, with the consent of congress, and to establish and execute foreign policy. but to say that its methods of doing so are beyond the reach of the courts, and presumably the congress, is a dangerous notion. this is the same logic behind the korematsu case, which ratified the internment of american citizens of japanese descent in concentration camps during ww2. korematsu, by the way, has never been overturned. it is a loaded gun aimed at dissidents.

ashcroft's presumed heir is alberto gonzales, who not only wrote the memo providing legal cover for torture and war crimes in afghanistan, iraq and camp x-ray (see related essay, below), but also developed the policy of withholding presidential records in violation of federal law. under our federal sunshine laws, presidential records are to be made public after 12 years following the end of the administration. gonzales's plan requires the approval of both the former president in question and the sitting president before records can be released.

coincidentally enough, this move came eight years after george h. w. bush's adminstration got its eviction notice, and 12 years after reagan. thus, we may never know exactly what the gipper and bush 1 and their people did in the iran-contra scandal. not coincidentally, many of those players are players in the bush 2 administration. among these are: u.n. ambassador john negroponte, who was ambassador to honduras when the contras were using that country as the launching pad for their terrorist war against the sandinista government and trafficking weapons and drugs across its borders; special assistant to the president eliot abrams, who served as assistant secretary of state and plead guilty to withholding information from congress in connection to his role as a major contra fundraiser, but was pardoned by bush 1 in 1992; and john poindexter, who was convicted of lying to congress, though the conviction was overturned on an immunity technicality, and developed bush 2's "total awareness" plan that enlisted civil servants and private employees to inform on the public, creating a vast web of snitches. poindexter also proposed a "terrorism futures market," a kind of gambling pool on when and where acts of terror were likely to happen next. public outrage over this fantastically distasteful idea led to poindexter's ouster.

i've already expressed my displeasure at the gonzales nomination (see below), but i am further troubled by the apparent acquiescence of the democrats to it. sen. patrick leahy (d-vt) has voiced his tacit approval of gonzales, suggesting that the nominee will be easier for democrats to work with as compared to his predecessor. well, good. so instead of speaking in tongues, he'll use the queen's english while burning the bill of rights. this is especially disappointing considering that leahy has been one of the most vocal and well-informed critics of bush's right-wing appointments to the federal bench.

colin powell was invited to leave the state department, to be replaced by the incompetent liar condi rice. the loss of a real player who took statesmanship seriously in exchange for a soviet specialist (the diplomatic equivalent of a buggywhip maker) whose primary qualification is undying devotion to the president's goals-- not to disrespect the ability to land a salchow-- is a monster just aching to bite us on the ass. she has demonstrated time and again her willingness to flout the facts in favor of dogma. i suspect her credibility at the geopolitical table is close to nil. stay tuned to this one; it's got all the earmarks of a comedo-tragic trainwreck.

new c.i.a. director porter goss, who famously said prior to his nomination that he was unqualified to work at the agency, issued a memo to his staff that reportedly said there was no room for disagreement with the president in the intelligence community. in particular, according to the new york times, it said that there was to be no support for opposition to administration policies. this is not exactly a rousing endorsement for devil's advocacy in an agency that's supposed to vet information with an eye toward worst case scenarios. the memo was reportedly circulated after a number of career c.i.a. officials resigned over policy differences with goss and his lackeys. the c.i.a. spokesman naturally called the report false and described the times as "dopey." clever retort.

other minor players are moving around. margaret spellings has been tapped to head up the department of education. her claim to fame is developing the woefully ineffective and punitive "no child left behind act." i suspect tori spelling could have done a better job.

one guy who just won't go away, much to the chagrin of howard stern, is michael powell. the f.c.c. chair who famously cited stern's show, thus incurring the wrath of the wildly popular shock jock and self-proclaimed king of all media, is now going after football. (do nascar dads watch football?) apparently, a pre-game spot on monday night football involved semi-clad, saucy actress nicolette sheridan shedding a towel and leaping into the arms of dreamy philadelphia eagles superstar terrell owens. sheridan, presumably nude sans towel, was shown only from behind and above the waist. powell wonders aloud what walt disney would think (disney owns abc).

well, good question. i think walt would not be pleased. given his support of the hitler regime, i suspect the implied miscegenation (sheridan is white, owens is black) would bother him more than a little. hell, there wasn't even a black mouseketeer until 11 years after his death. i suggest we thaw his head and ask his opinion personally.

i thought powell's apparent dysfunction regarding the female form reached its apex when he went apoplectic over janet jackson's dirty pillow poking out during the superbowl halftime show. that infamous wardrobe malfunction cost cbs $550,000, a fine that the tiffany network is disputing. i wonder what a naked back costs.

maybe, now that ashcroft is pimping himself for the big bench, powell can borrow the $8,000 velvet drape ashcroft used to shroud the bare-chested statue of justice (file under "symbolism, hack") to cover his tv.


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