Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Constitution

What is the biggest threat facing the US public?

Osama Bin Laden? Al-Qaeda? Islamic Terrorists? Sponge-Bob SquarePants? Mexicans? Liberals? Gays? Hillary Clinton? Global Warning? Apathy? Ignorance? The MSM? Drugs? Obesity? Bloggers? Bush? Cheney?

To quote the crustiest, angriest talking-head on television (McLlaughlin): WRONG!

It is Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez; our own 21st Century Torquemada, Cardinal Richelieu and Machiavelli all rolled into one.

Whilst George Bush and Dick Cheney have ignored the US Constitution, Gonzalez has been shredding it.
Whilst Bush and Cheney have ignored the law, Gonzalez has been re-writing it.

According to Gonzalez the office of the President (as occupied by George Bush) wields supreme executive power. And thus as the appointed premier “legal authority” of King George, Gonzalez wields supreme legal authority.

When George used the newly-coined phrase “enemy combatant” Gonzalez made it a ‘legal’ term defined solely by the President, to be used exclusively by him. Gonzalez overturned by fiat the US’s legal obligations to the “quaint” Geneva conventions. Without review he re-defined torture as the equivalent to the distress or actual fact of organ failure.
He determined that any law passed by congress could be nullified by the President with a post-it note. Gonzalez has also consistently claimed that his opinions and actions may be revealed to the public or obscured from examination according to his own private judgment which for reasons of self-appointed executive privilege he insists he is not obliged to reveal.

In August of 2006, whilst the public interest was directed to global warming, Joe Lieberman’s political schizophrenia, Israel’s collective military punishment of Lebanon, Mel Gibson’s drunken rant, George Allen’s macaca slur and so on, Gonzalez’s DOJ was busy firing eight state prosecutors for no justifiable reasons.

No matter how powerful you think you are, it’s always best to deliver bad news on Fridays or avoid public notice by appointing unqualified political cronies or conducting political purges in August.

Some six months on, the DOJ’s purge has come to the attention of, yes the Democrats.
Gonzalez has claimed that the prosecutors were fired for “performance” issues. Yet Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) showed that one of those fired, Carol Lam (of San Diego, CA) had received, in August, a favorable performance review from the DOJ.

David Iglesias, State Attorney for New Mexico was also fired for “performance” reasons but as TPMuckraker reports (theyhave been all over this issue):

“… the statistics kept by the Federal Judiciary don't reflect an inability for Iglesias' office to move more quickly on cases -- in fact, quite the opposite. In 2001, when Iglesias took over, the data (pdf) shows a median of 4.6 months for a criminal case in the New Mexico office to move from filing to disposition (dismissal, guilty plea, or trial). In 2005, that time had dwindled to 3.7 months.

And that's a time when Iglesias' office was increasingly snowed under by more cases. His office opened 1,548 criminal cases in 2001; in 2005, the office opened 2,915.

So Iglesias' office was opening more cases and handling them faster than his predecessor. Maybe that's why he received a positive performance evaluation? “

Seattle, Arkansas, Nevada. Arizona have also lost their state attorney’s by the same ‘process’ in the same timeframe and for the same ‘reasons’.

As the House continues to conduct it’s hearings on this matter Gonzalez’s response has been that the attorney’s dismissals “could have been handled better”.
In other words the problem is not that these attorneys were fired based on trumped-up charges of poor performance, but that firing them during August with a major international conflict raging to distract the public from domestic issues simply didn’t provide Gonzalez’s DOJ enough cover to prevent their insupportable actions from going un-noticed.

In itself this purge is bad enough, and Gonzalez’s lame excuses and obfuscation typical. But what is really going on? The geographic distribution of this purge seems rather specific—Washington, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada; Arkansas is the “odd man out” in this regard.

Now take what you know about Gonzalez (as I crudely summarized in my fifth paragraph) and add that to this attorney purge. Then bear in mind Bush and Cheney’s political standing at the moment and combine that with the current view of Republicans and their policies. And then add this:

"The Bush administration has accelerated its Internet surveillance push by proposing that Web sites must keep records of who uploads photographs or videos in case police determine the content is illegal and choose to investigate, CNET has learned.
That proposal surfaced Wednesday in a private meeting during which U.S. Department of Justice officials, including Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, tried to convince industry representatives such as AOL and Comcast that data retention would be valuable in investigating terrorism, child pornography and other crimes
Only universities and libraries would be excluded, one participant said. "There's a PR concern with including the libraries, so we're not going to include them," the participant quoted the Justice Department as saying. "We know we're going to get a pushback, so we're not going to do that."

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been lobbying Congress for mandatory data retention, calling it a "national problem that requires federal legislation." Gonzales has convened earlier private meetings to pressure industry representatives. And last month, Republicans introduced a mandatory data retention bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would let the attorney general dictate what must be stored and for how long."

I think it’s fair to conjecture from past and current actions that Gonzalez is, as discreetly as possible, using his position to subvert the foundations of US law and constitutional government. Whilst he has the power he is ensuring that Bush, Cheney and the entire neocon cabal, including himself, are rendered immune from investigation, let alone prosecution. He twisting the law to serve himself and his colleagues and to suppress the rights and options of the public to determine their own governance and he is doing so in private.

Bush and Cheney can take the public heat until 2008 whilst Gonzalez functions as the faithful lieutenant, manipulating the system to preserve their comfortable and unassailed retirement which Gonzalez himself will also enjoy.

Those who believe in the rule of law and the primacy of the Constitution will feel obliged to uphold them as they reverse their abuses by Bush, Gonzalez who in turn will then, as they already have done, use the very same articles and principles they have abandoned and perverted, to defend themselves and avoid all accountability for their actions and their crimes.

Bush and Cheney will leave office (not soon enough, but soon) but Gonzalez is quietly ensuring that the rights and privileges they have illegally claimed will continue, whilst the public’s rights and privileges will continue to be denied.

Bush and Cheney have crippled America, but Gonzalez is poised to strike the killing blow. It is he, not Bush or Cheney who is the biggest threat this country faces.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Why Wait? The People Have The Power Of The Purse

The power of purse doesn’t just lie with the Congress, but with the tax-payer.

If on April the 15th the public filed income-tax extensions to delay the continued funding of policies with which the majority do not agree, and by which they do not benefit, then perhaps our government might finally act to satisfy the will of the people whom they are constitutionally, morally and legally bound to serve.

Why wait for 2008?

Now, I fully realize that the government isn't living from paycheck to paycheck (every April 15th) and plenty of people count on their refunds.

Deferring income-tax payments until August wouldn't change a damn thing. But the act of doing so, en-masse, as a protest, might keep the pressure on this profligate administration and provide further ammunition for the Democrats who are being stymied by an evenly split Senate in their efforts to end the Iraq occupation.

It wouldn't be an exercise in power, but perhaps in influence.

However, as brilliant as this idea is in theory, it has been brought to my attention that in may not be practical. Trouble is a hell of a lot of people simply can't afford to follow this suggestion.
Still, for those who can, why not?
And besides even if it is a stupid, impractical idea, so was the Iraq war and look at what an impression that made! If just the notion got some publicity, who knows what might happen ( hopefully nothing bad).

Perle's Lost Lustre

So there I was, face to face with the Prince of Darkness, Richard Perle.

According to my intelligence sources I’d have been justified in launching a unilateral strike in his ‘crotchal’ region, yelling “Whose your Baghdaddy now, bitch?!!!

But before I could act a nervous young man handed me his camera so that he, the only fan of Perle’s out of nearly 500 attendees, might have a memento of the day he met one of his heroes. He offered a paperback copy of one of Perle’s screeds for an autograph whilst I preserved the moment of political porn.

The dirty deed was done and then it was my turn.

Neuron’s fired chemo-electric charges across myriad synapses commanding my muscles into action and in the blinking of an eye I was shaking Perle’s hand and telling him “Good job!” and then he simply disappeared into the darkness from whence he came.

No, I wasn’t having a nightmare.

Perle was attending as a panelist in one of a series of town-hall discussions being conducted by PBS, anchored on its new documentary series America at a Crossroads which will air in April.
This particular event was hosted at DePaul University’s Merle Reskin Theater (under the auspices of DePaul’s Offic of Islamic Studies in conjunction with the Global Voices lecture series) in Chicago and I just happened to be helping-out.

Why, given the opportunity, didn’t I take Perle to task for his active promotion of a policy that has killed many thousands of innocents?--because it would have been pointless; my complaints would have fallen on deaf ears, and besides there was no need.

Perle did actually do a “good job” during the discussion and the question period. Maintaining his usual specious arguments, flawed logic and revisionist rhetoric he clearly demonstrated his inadequate intellect, willful ignorance and the bankruptcy of the neo-con philosophies and policies.

Although he has opined of late that his fellow neocons have mismanaged US policy he still maintains the absurd underlying neocon philosophy of an imperial, militarily aggressive America ultimately benefits the global community. And though he no longer officially advises on US policy his fellow neocons are still entrenched in positions of power and influence.
Having committed to several more appearances anchored on the PBS series in which he will invariably face skeptical audiences Perle has unwittingly begun to knot the rope with which he will ultimately hang himself (and by association condemn his fellows) in full view of the public.

So ultimately that’s why I shook his hand and encouraged him, instead of berating him or punching him in the face. He has chosen to step into the light, he will shrivel under it, and there will be no one to blame except himself. And we all get to watch.