"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The perils of King George

It's taken a couple of days for me to let the recent developments regarding George Bush, Iraq, and the secret wiretap scandal sink in, and I can now safely say that I am appalled, ashamed, and outraged.

Granted, in a free society there has to be a dividing line somewhere between civil liberties and the overall public good -- the often-mentioned example being that free speech does not give you the right to falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theatre. But Bush has pushed this line far beyond what is reasonable and necessary. Americans realize that some compromises must be made to deal with the very real threats of domestic terrorism since 9/11, however I believe that suspending the Constitution of the United States, no matter how noble the cause, is simply inconsistent with the principles on which this country was founded. Spying on citizens without a court warrant is the action of a dictatorship, and there's tragic irony to me in the fact that US soldiers are dying in Iraq to establish constitutional law there while those same tenets are being ignored here in our own country.

Across America today, the anger is being heard loud and clear:
Kansas City Star: "The Struggle With Foreign Enemies Does Not Simply Give Him A Blank Check"

Denver Post: Adm. Has Lost "Balance Between Essential Anti-Terrorism Tools And Encroachment On Liberties"

LA Times: "Stunning," "One Of The More Egregious Cases Of Governmental Overreach"

Wash. Post: "The Tools Of Foreign Intelligence Are Not Consistent With A Democratic Society"

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Unacceptable Actions Of A Police State"

St. Petersburg Times: "So Dangerously Ill-Conceived And Contrary To This Nation's Guiding Principles"

NY Times: Bush "Secretly And Recklessly Expanded The Govt.'s Powers In Dangerous And Unnecessary Ways"
And yet, what I find most incredible is that Bush goes on national television to declare that not only did he break the law, but that he intends to keep on doing it -- and anyone who disagrees with him is a traitor who is helping the enemy. "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war," he claims. In other words, according to Bush, the "abuse" is in the reporting of the truth, not his violations. This is like telling the cop who stops you for speeding that he should be ashamed of himself for enforcing the law.

The President's recent blitz of speeches and press events only shows a pathetic attempt to bolster his sagging poll numbers, while revealing nothing new beyond the "stay the course" bromide he's been peddling all along. It's true that in looking past the slogans and platitudes, there has indeed been some recent progress in Iraq, and it's refreshing to see Bush admit that the information justifying the war was wrong to begin with. But this speech should have been made two years ago, not when he is finally cornered into admitting the truth -- facts that were likely known at the very beginning of the conflict. His anger at critics was obvious; during his news conference, Bush bristled at many questions, and raised his voice when challenging opponents of extending the Patriot Act, which expires at year-end. "I want senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to go home and explain why these cities are safer" without it, he said, referring directly to Democrats Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, who helped block passage of the extension in the Senate last week.

I'll tell you why: because they're American cities, and the people who live in them know they only live in a free country when they have the expectation of privacy and other fundamental liberties guaranteed by our founding fathers. Hopefully, one consequence of these revelations of unwarranted government intrusion will be to hammer the final nail in the coffin of this odious legislation disguised as "patriotism", that threatens our freedom more than any terrorist act.

There's a joke going around now that says, "Why doesn't someone just give him a blowjob so we can impeach him?" But not surprisingly, serious calls for Bush's impeachment are being heard more loudly. So far, most of it has come from the left, such as media writer Bob Burnett, former Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, the Veterans for Peace, and other so-called "liberals". But if Bush continues this cavalier course, I envision that many "mainstream" Americans will begin calling their Senators and Congress members to demand that he be held accountable for blatantly misleading the country and trampling on the Bill of Rights.

Of course, the possibility of impeachment opens an entirely different can of worms, one that I doubt the country is ready for just yet. Still, the "long train of abuses and usurpations" by this administration grows ever longer, and the leader of any nation who so openly flaunts his disdain for the Law and the rights of the people deserves what he gets. King George III found this out the hard way; King George The Bush may also.

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