But I’m all ears

May 11, 2006

I can admire the sentiment when Steven Dedalus mutters, “Silence, exile, cunning.” But I doubt I’ll ever learn to adopt such restrained ideals.

USA Today has never got the respect it deserves. Now it will. They don’t do a ton of investigative reporting, but when they do, they nail their story to the wall. It’s a shame they’ll only land a Pulitzer prize for this story. There was never a better time to institute a super-Pulitzer, a best of decade award.

Because this, folks, is it. This is the fire raining down at last on the City of the Potomac Plain, the fall of the Tower of Babel, the upness of the jig.

Sure, the Bush administration was not just a lame duck, it was the duckly equivalent of a quadruple amputee. But the sad truth is, this was not any old delimbed fowl; this was one of the walking, hobbling, flopping undead. When a government arrogates to itself, as this government has, the right to violate any law it sees fit to defy, and when it operates entirely in secret, with no oversight whatsoever from Congress or the courts, and only the occasional token peep of curiosity from the media – then it doesn’t matter whether its approval numbers are in single digits. It will remain the 500 pound zombie gorilla duck, sleeping, defecating, and eavesdropping wherever it likes.

It was able to preserve its secrecy, relinquishing only onion-thin layers of it to the occasional whistleblower, or to the sporadic incursion into the mass media of the common knowledge of the Internets, only because at least half of the citizenry accepted, or wanted to accept, the rationale for the secrecy. That Bush was not trying to keep Americans, but the terrorist enemy, in the dark about everything he did. That rationale is blown.

The country was evenly split on whether they approved of the NSA cross-Atlantic wiretapping. That was largely because, first, the media never bothered to explain the little details: what the Fourth Amendment actually says; the powers already available to the Administration under FISA, including the power to tap first and answer questions 3 days later. And, second, the average citizen, too harried making ends meet to track down every detail, was inclined to trust Bush’s hasty assurances that only a select few evildoers were swept up in the net. Half the country felt it didn’t touch their lives, didn’t touch their own privacy, and didn’t matter too much.

Now they know better. We know better. We know that Big Brother is watching us. And we also know incontrovertibly that Bush, Gonzales, Hayden, the whole tapping tapdancing pack of voyeurs, spent every night with ears pressed to the bedroom door of Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch, and then for months spent every day looking us straight in the face and lying about it.

Here, incidentally, is one of the statutes Bush was breaking. Note that there’s a seven year penalty for each violation. At 200 million odd illegal acts, Bush should get out of the slammer at about the time the sun goes nova.

The eavesdropping was never a winning issue for Karl Rove in the fall, not if lovers of the Constitution stood up to him on it. Up til now, Rove has been able to frighten the more weak-kneed lovers of the Constitution, most of our elected Democrats among them, into making only the feeblest protests. But now there isn’t a politician in the length and the breadth of the land who can pretend the issue hands Bush anything but his head on a platter.

I confidently predict poll numbers for Dubya stabilized under 30 well by the end of the month.

[Breaking: New Harris poll puts Our Fearful Leader at 29%. And that’s before the Snoopgate story broke.]


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