It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals.-- PATRICK FITZGERALDWe are now in Week 2 of the Blagojevich corruption meltdown. It only seems like it's been two months. And the news media, of course, is wasting entire forests to cover every jot and tittle of this sordid little saga while paying scant attention to lawbreaking of such enormity that it makes the exploits of the Illinois governor seem insignificant.
Given the hurricane of what-it-all-means from the Windy City, you can been forgiven for not knowing that a Senate committee released a report last week stating that senior Bush administration officials share much of the blame for the use of torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.
The report, released by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain (remember him?) singled out former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, but noted that the other usual suspects had played major roles. These, as we know, include Vice President Cheney and his trigger man, David Addington, and Attorney General Gonzalez, among others who had the full support of President Bush.
Why did this story receive so little attention: Because we have become so ostrich-like when it comes to felonious behavior by high officials in the Age of Bush. Not only do we expect these people to break the law but we know that they will get away with it.* * * * *The Dear Friend & Conscience, as she often does, cut right to the chase in discussing last week's other big story: The saga of Richard Shelby (shown below with a familiar fellow coward) and the other Republican senators who in a not so subtle attempt to castrate the United Autoworkers Union, held hostage a $14 billion bridge-loan bailout bill for GM and Chrysler.
In a perfect before-the fact description of these Dixie dickheads, I quoted Murray Kempton, who wrote: "There is a certain kind of politician who stays safely in the hills during battle and then comes down and shoots the wounded."
But the DF&C did the late great journalist one better, saying with her usual candor: "It's just pushing people down so you can be on top."
That is exactly what these senators, as well as Rumsfeld and his crowd, and Blagojevich, as well, were doing. And please spare me the "it's just human nature" claptrap, because real humans are hard wired to not prey on, let alone try to destroy others. So it takes a good deal of premeditation, no?
That pushing-down thing has been a hallmark of the Bush administration, from waterboarding false confessions out of guests at the Rumsfeld Gulag to destroying careers, the latter infamously including a CIA operative by the name of Valerie Plame.* * * * *Among the ostriches with their heads someplace other than in the sand are all of the Republicans who are high fiving U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald for putting together what appears to an airtight case against the Illinois governor.
How quickly these partisans forgot another and far more important case engineered by this refreshingly non-partisan prosecutor. That would be the conviction of Cheney aide Scooter Libby on perjury and obstruction of justice charges for his role in another pushing-down caper: The outting of Plame, who was married to a former diplomat who blew the whistle on one of the White House's specious claims for justifying going to war in Iraq.
The Scooter's two and a half year prison term was short circuited by the president, of course, which prompted the rejoinder from Fitzgerald atop this post.* * * * *About that holiday shopping reference: It's a little disingenuous since we give gifts all year around here and not just when Wal-Mart and American Express tell us to do so.
You can be sure that I wasn't off in search of a 42-inch plasma screen TV when I set out on my mountain bike yesterday afternoon. My purchases were considerably more modest -- and the stories I heard on my expedition toe curling.
The hardware store manager told me that shoplifting arrests are way up. The guy at the photo shop says sales are the worst he's seen in his 30 years. And the pharmacist says there has been a spike in prescriptions from people who didn't have health insurance, couldn't afford their meds and went off them only to get seriously ill. The only positive note was struck by a Sanford and Son-like character who makes the rounds of the big dumpsters hereabouts. "I'm an aluminum specialist," he told me, "and business is booming."
This slice of life is in an affluent college town, thank you, so I can only imagine what's going on elsewhere as the great pushing down of the Age of Bush has borne such bitter fruit.