The Voice In The Wilderness
Ding! Dong! Saint John is gone! So seems to be the theme of this editorial from Oregon. But just because one Holy Warrior syccumbs doesn't mean that much progress has been achieved, for as this editorial notes, a more effective replacement is now ready to apply his thumb to unbalance Justice' Scales.
A Register-Guard [Eugene, OR] Editorial
Copyright 2004 The Register-Guard
Tuesday's resignation of John Ashcroft, one of the most divisive attorneys general in U.S. history, briefly opened a door for President Bush. He had a chance to reach out to the nation's political center and name a replacement who would put enforcement of the law and respect for civil rights above ideology. Bush closed that door one day later by appointing White House counsel Alberto Gonzales as Ashcroft's successor, passing over less controversial candidates such as C. Boyden Gray, a White House counsel to the first President Bush, and Larry Thompson, who served as Ashcroft's deputy until last year.
As for Ashcroft, he will be missed only by fellow ideologues who share his skewed views on issues ranging from civil liberties to the separation of church and state. Ashcroft's nomination was approved nearly four years ago by a 52-48 vote, the narrowest for any of Bush's Cabinet appointments. His record has demonstrated that lawmakers' early misgivings were warranted, in particular concerns that the former senator would use his office for ideological purposes.
The federal courts have provided a revealing scorecard. Lowlights include the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of the Justice Department's argument that the president alone could determine the fate of enemy combatants, and the court's rejection of the administration's denial of fundamental rights to foreign detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Ashcroft's unrelenting quest to overturn Oregon's assisted suicide law - contrary to the traditional conservative respect for states' rights - also has been blocked by the courts. In a move that exemplifies his disregard for Oregon voters who have twice approved the state's Death with Dignity Act and the federal courts that repeatedly have upheld it, Ashcroft's office said earlier Tuesday that it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the law. Ashcroft's departure is welcome news for Oregonians - and all Americans who believe that this nation's attorney general should be wholly dedicated to enforcing the law and not to imposing personal ideology. He will not be missed.
While Gonzales is not nearly as polarizing a figure as Ashcroft, the Senate should think long and hard before confirming the longtime Bush ally. Gonzales played a pivotal role in developing the administration's relentless post-Sept. 11 push to curb civil liberties with the justification of enhancing national security. Lawmakers should remember that Gonzales staunchly defended the administration's policy of detaining enemy combatants indefinitely without access to lawyers or courts. He wrote the notorious 2002 memo in which the president asserted the right to waive anti-torture law and international treaties that protect prisoners of war, a move that led to the abuses that later came to light in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Gonzales also has been a consistent supporter of the USA Patriot Act, which many Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree should be modified to remove provisions that trample on civil liberties.
These sentiments can be applied to most of those employed by Bu$hCo in their unrelenting campaign to use religion as a weapon of massive destruction against the very nation that made it all possible for them to achieve such success through the very freedoms and liberties they assault daily.
Gonzales will prove to be more beneficial to Bu$hCo than Ashcroft was. Imagine how much easier it would have been for Bu$hCo if instead Gonzales were the one testifying to Congress, lying with a straight face that would play well on television, than Ashcroft was. After all, one who lost an electioin to a dead man doesn't have much credibility to begin with. And wearing his religion on his sleeve and making such assinine comments didn't help him any.
But the amateur Brownshirts have served their purpose. They have made it possible for the professional autocrats to move in, and now must be retired. Ashcroft is but one of the first. Ailing Chief 'Justice' Rehnquist is another, about to step aside and let Tony the Fixer take over. There will be more soon.
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