Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sneaky

News this morning that you've been playing fast and loose with millions more of our telephone numbers than you originally copped to, Bush. It seems your National Security Agency has been extorting massive lists from the major phone companies--not, your people insist, to listen in on private conversations (who? us?) but merely to track patterns of calls that might suggest terrorist activity.

Quite frankly, Bush, it doesn't matter to me whether you're tracking my calling patterns or listening to my conversations. It's still a gross and unwarranted invasion of my privacy and, as such, a violation of my constitutionl rights as an American citizen. I'm not usually one of those who makes a big issue of my personal rights: in fact, I tend rather to believe that the creed of individual rights on which this country was founded--in part at least--has led directly to many of the problems we face as a society. I judge that we're short on a collective sense of social responsibility these days. Remember, I was raised a socialist, in the good old meaning of that word. It wasn't always a dirty one, at least in Europe.

Still, you have taken things to the opposite extreme. In line with your recently-revealed spying program, this is the stuff of Orwellian Big Brother conservatism. It borders--and I hate to use the word, Bush, but it does truly fit--on fascism. (Did you know the origin of that word was the Latin fasces, the axe bound up in a bundle of rods that was the militaristic Roman symbol of authority? It carries with it, too, an association of punishment. That's what I mean about your regime, Bush: it's based in an authoritarianism that tolerates no questions and no doubts.) I know you protest that such things as secret wiretapping are necessary to protect us from another terrorist attack: every inroad that you've made into the constitutional rights of citizens (and non-citizens!) since 9/11, it seems, uses that event to justify you.

Let's leave aside the question of effectiveness. I happen to believe that the success of those who wish us ill will not be impeded by such futile and personally invasive gestures. If you think they're incapable of working around such obstacles, you underestimate them, Bush. But let's leave that aside. The problem here has to do with legality, and the way in which you choose to define it. A friend referred me yesterday to an article by Charlie Savage in the April 30 Boston Globe about the practice of using "signing statements" to define any law passed by Congress to mean exactly what you want it to mean--no matter if that's the opposite of what Congress meant. Other Presidents have apparently resorted to this device, but have most frequently had the guts to use their veto power to register protest or disagreement, thus allowing Congress to rethink and, if suffiently powerful in their collective wisdom, to override the presidential veto. No previous President has used it habitually, as you have done--an incredible 750 times!--to effectively change the intention of any law that displeases you. The veto? You have used it... never.

It's this kind of sneakiness, Bush, that most bothers me about you. You gather those who have worked hard to assure passage of the bill around you in a signing ceremony, you congratulate them all with big fanfare as you append your signature, then turn around and write a signing statement that completely undermines their work. All this without their knowing it. In effect you give yourself permission, as President, to break the law you signed. It's truly disgraceful. As I say, it's also sneaky. Your trademark smirk is the facial expression of the sneaky man--the man who thinks, or knows he's getting away with something. And sneakiness is, frankly, the coward's way of dealing with reality. It's what you do when you don't have the guts or the persuasive powers to argue you own cause, or when you don't have the passion to believe in it yourself.

Enough for today, Bush. Too late, I think, to hope you'll mend your ways.

2 comments:

dennis said...

Speaking of sneaky, NPR is interviewing Michell Goldberg, new book, Kingdom Coming, the Rise of Christian Nationalism. She gives details and names of the parties and groups who are gaining political power and their idealogies stealthfully,
Their goal is not participation, it's dominion. She's reading from one leader, who says dominion is their goal. These people are very powerful already, with law firms and education facilities and interns in the White House, etc.
This gal is interesting, very informed, even went to rallies in Ohio and makes a good argument for how Bush won Ohio through gay bashing.
interesting points: they're for blacks, because they want their votes. For jews, because they see them as integral to the rapture and Isreal.
Her findings in her word are 'sinister' as they battle against what they call "War on Christians".

PK said...

He doesn't have a cause. He says whatever he's told to say, just 'cause' he's the pres. and is suppose to.