The Line in the Sand - Freedom vs. New America
(With thanks to SusanG, whose frontpage use of the words "a line in the sand" at DailyKOS today inspired me to write this).
100 years from now, historians will hopefully say that the day on which the people of the United States shifted their focus from the phantom War on Terror to the real War on American Freedoms was December 16, 2005 - the day on which the New York Times announced the following news:
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
That was yesterday, even though the story was actually reported a year after the Times actually knew, but was persuaded (we don't know how, but if Judy Miller had a hand in it I would not be surprised) to stay silent.
Then, today, after a long day of our President's lying lapdog and evil handmaiden of the Apocalypse trying to pretend that our civil liberties were secure despite their refusal to admit or deny whether it was true that Americans were now at risk of being spied on by their own government, the President came out of the blocks in his weekly radio address, broadcast live from the White House for only the second time in his Presidency. Rather than his usual stick and move -- including his stick and move as late as yesterday, President Bush took a new, bold approach. Here is (summarized in the venacular to ensure it is understood by young and old alike) what he said:
Damned Skippy. Sucks to Be You
Now, of course, President Bush facially relied on what he said was a belief that what he was doing was perfectly legal - a belief furthered by the same lawyer who said the Geneva Conventions might actually permit torture. But that's the obvious. What is not obvious, unless you were really listening behind his literal words and taking into account Bush's demeanor (in which he was clearly angry, and looked at times to be almost crying) was the unspoken message to his unnamed opponents. A message that has now become his frightful trademark when he feels challenged. The message that is, with his speech today, now being sent to the American people themselves:
"Bring it On"
In his tearfully angry radio address today, which spent all its time railing about how the successful filibuster against renewal of the the USA PATRIOT Act and our finally-doing-their-job press were the *real* threat to America -- and absolutely none on the obvious threat to America posed by warrantless, domestic spying on Americans by the Executive Branch -- President Bush, in my opinion, threw down the gauntlet. He issued a dare to all of us.
He dared us, the American People, to actually *do* something about his behavior if we don't like it.
This is a dare that the past five years has shown to Emperor George will most likely never be called. After all, there has been no serious, organized and well-executed threat to his ongoing leadership in response to most of the uncountable illegal, unethical, immoral or just plain greedy and stupid things that George W. Bush and his administration have done since 2000, largely in plain sight. So, playing devil's advocate, what reason has the left given George Bush to believe that his fundamentally undermining our entire system of checks and balances will result in anything different? He has gotten away, pretty much, with all of it. At least, so far.
Remember, right now around 40% of the American public still believes that George W. Bush is doing a right-fine job. They believe this despite it being publicly known for the past 5 years (to anyone that was not so terrified to face the truth about who we'd made President and what he was doing to America that they heeded their non-lying eyes and ears) that America itself was being hijacked. That it was being inexorably reshaped -- from within its own White House. Our America, the still-largely fledgling grand experiment of government, was being remodeled under the Bush Administration. Changing into an America that first confused, then later sickened, many of us.
Into what 100 years from now might be called, New AmericaTM.
Bush's New America is an America that even in its darkest days, we'd never seen before. An America that gleefully thumbs its nose at own treaties, like those designed to shield the planet from the death by a thousand storms due to global warning or the instant annilation of nuclear war. An America that lies about the reasons for commencement and continuation of a doctrine of pre-emptive warfare against other sovereign nations, rogue, threat or Mostly Harmless; ignored, excused away and largely refused to punish kidnapping, incommunicado indefinite imprisonment, sadistic and sexually charged torture and desecration of the dead undertaken in our country's name, all in defiance of the fundamental pillars of International Law.
New America requires a populace that is unclear and uncertain, ignorant and uninformed, insecure and afraid, about everything that really matters to the integrity of the democracy itself. So, George W. Bush's administration has shown us an America in which our votes are insecure and uncertain; where paid propaganda is sold to us as objective analysis, where data and records that our taxes paid for are scrubbed from public websites we also pay for; and where keeping secrets is is the most important public relations goal. This process started with baby steps, like eliminating the 50-year old tradition of having the American Bar Association prescreen the qualifications of federal judicial candidates. To larger things like preventing the government's own attorneys from expressing their legal opinion about matters directly under their jurisdiction. And now to a monstrous thing: the willingness to admit that a single man's desire to spy on what he believes are his enemies is enough to set aside due process and the Constitution itself so long as the words "war on terror" are mentioned.
And in Bush's New America, nothing -- other than money and power - is sacred. Those in control have proven that they are willing to let one of our nation's crown jewels of history and culture die an internationally-viewed and ignorable death if saving it takes a buck that Bush wants given to someone else - who doesn't need it. They are willing to drag their feet on warming the cold, or feeding the hungry; sheltering the homeless or healing the sick; and will never feel shame at systematically transfer the wealth and power which made America's middle class great from the hands of the working class and electorate to a select class: those who needed nothing from America they didn't already have (at least economically), but still want more anyway.
All of it excused away because of the Executive Branch snatch and grab job commonly known as "Funding The War on Terror".
And what of those who do see what is happening and complain? In New America, those civil servants, decorated heroes or ordinary people who try to tell the truth to the American people were retaliated against, shoved out of their jobs, told that their replacement was already waiting in the wings, or simply called coward or traitor. while those civil servants whose only qualifications for their roles appear to be (a) unswerving personal fealty to George Walker Bush and (b) disdain for the rule of American and International law, the duty of government and the opinion of the world stage are lauded as doing a great job, given medals for failure, and offered up to sit in the highest seats of power in the land despite their public advocacy for immoral and illegal policies or their complete lack of qualifications.
The official White House ResponseTM was, is and shall ever be, this: George Bush is right because he says so. We are wrong because he says so. Protecting America means giving up our freedoms, because Freedom is Hard Work. And, since it's HIS hard work, when it comes to our fundamental freedoms, HE gets to decide what is, or is not American.
So just forget the virtually continuous and repeated displeasure expressed about his approach to the Executive role by Courts, members of Congress and his own Executive branch career civil servants, who are fleeing or being pushed out of policy and legal departments by the droves because of their vehement disagreement with the New American OrderTM. Not to mention the objections of that portion of the American People who have actually been paying attention to the systematic erosion of our Constitution some are now calling "Operation Eroding Freedom". They do not agree, so they do not matter.
Not in New America, anyhow.
100 years from now, the world may end up remembering that 5 years ago tomorrow, President-Elect George W. Bush first uttered in public hearing his opinion about a Better America:
If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.
In light of yesterday's news, and today's petulent admission, if George W. Bush has not yet earned the title of Dictator, then I don't know what a dictator is, any more.
What else do you call it when one man, in defiance of law and regardless of concerns about his conduct being expressed by his political opponents like Russ Feingold and his political allies, like Arlen Specter, nonetheless on nationally-broadcast radio stands up and proudly proclaims to the American people in the face of their real concerns that: I've done it, I'm doing it, and as long as *I'm* President I'm going to KEEP doing it?" What else do you call it When the person at the top of the power pyramid, the so-called leader of the Free world, admits that he has no intention of justifying anything about his activities to anyone he does not choose to listen to as long as he holds the office of President? What else can you call it, when politicians who are normally opponents agree that there is nothing good or lawful about a President's conduct, find nothing good to say about a President's actions? For example, yesterday Senator Russ Feingold stepped up and told the Associated Press what was on the minds of many of us who deeply love America and are truly afraid for her right now:
I tell you, he's President George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for. . .
One must continue to shield ones lying eyes and ears to believe that Bush has NOT styled himself as King, when even his political friends (like Arlen Specter) can say no more in his defense than
With this morning's angry lecture from the White House, it is clear that President Bush believes he needs answer to no man or woman, except himself. And clear that the President's intent is to continue to govern America not as the constitutional democratic republic that it has always been, deliberately secured by checks and balances against any overreaching of power by the Executive, but instead as a quasi-fascist state (or at least, state-in-training if you compare the state of America since 2000 to the checklist) over which George Walker Bush and his Inner Circle (chosen, apparently, with unflagging personal fealty to Bush as their primary qualification) -- will rule and will dispense their rewards to the deserving: those equally loyal and equally powerful.
With today's tearfully furious confirmation that he had both effectively revived the hated ghost of COINTELPRO and deliberately hid it from the American People "to protect America" from "the menace of terrorism" (a claim that would have made both J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy proud), George W. Bush has effectively drawn a line in the sand of our very democracy. A line that separates America, and its freedoms, from the Bush Administration's New America.
When will the American people draw our own line in the sand, in response?