Friday :: Sep 30, 2005

Because I Said So!

by pessimist
Do What I Say, Not What I Do

When one is a parent, one has to occasionally insist that a certain action be taken (or not, as the case may be) by a child without benefit of explanation. The reasons for such vary, but the result is that an important lesson wasn't taught properly, and will likely never be. Instead, a different lesson - that of the application of power by the powerful for the powerful - is learned.

Internationally, things aren't going too well for Bu$hCo (not that domestically things are all that ducky!), and I think I know why. There is something about a hypocrite coming to you and telling you you are doing it all wrong and have to change to a 'new and improved' system of their choosing whether you want to or not that just raises my hackles. I'm sincerely hoping that I'm not alone!

Domestically, King George is able to muster the minions to harass and harangue anyone who opposes him, even if the harassing haranguers only number 400 and the harassed haranguees number well over 100,000.

The minions will be very busy!

Internationally, however, it doesn't seem to be working according to the PNAC Plan. All of King George's Horsepower in weapons and (wo)men went to Iraq and told the Iraqis 'you are doing it all wrong'. Now that he's imposed a 'new and improved' government on Iraq, things are going so well! Certainly, the Sunnis think so - NOT! That's why King George is going to let Americans play in the Iraqi sands just a little while longer. He's busy - the Afghanistan situation needs some attention.

Support from the nations of the Middle East for Bu$hCo America has slipped somewhat, so King George decides to send an emissary to kill two birds with one stone. Karen Hughes was the choice, and she was to ask the Saudi officials for their help so that Bu$hCo could suppress the First Amendment and silence free speech (however hostile) in the publications of American mosques, and she was also to display for Saudi women the 'correct' model of a modern woman.

Not only did the Saudi women put her firmly back in her place - as did the Egyptians, and the Turks - the local Arab media did as well:

The Karen Hughes Cleaning Service

As a superpower, the United States has enough enemies and conflicts to keep it up at night. How can Karen Hughes change her country’s reputation, especially in Egypt, the country which the US administration has repeatedly backed and sponsored?

Even if the current US administration turned into to the world’s largest cleaning company, it would still be unable to clean its reputation and improve its image in the Arab world. The mission is nearly impossible. [T]he hatred of all things America continues to grow in Egypt, as a reading of the state and opposition media is sure to reveal. This state of affairs is impossible to repair for a number of reasons, some to do with ideological beliefs, such as those held by the Muslim Brotherhood and leftists. Others oppose the US not out of conviction but repetition, encouraged by media organizations thought to be subservient to Washington.

The diplomat is deluding herself if she thinks anyone will believe her or show interest in the good deeds she will enumerate. All those she will meet are sure to repeat one word, “Occupation, occupation, occupation”. Her planned meetings will end as they started. Hughes will face an important decision: repair the US’s reputation, which is nearly impossible, or modify the country’s policies, also almost unfeasible.

Our own media chimes in:

What on earth is she doing in the Middle East?

Hughes is the third person that President Bush has appointed to this admittedly daunting position since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And she's the third piece of living evidence that he has no idea what "public diplomacy" requires. In a sense, this is par for the course when American officials meet with unofficial audiences abroad. Let us stipulate for a moment that Hughes is ideally suited for the job—that she can figure out how to spin sheiks, imams, and "the Arab street" as agilely as she spun the White House press corps in her days as Bush's communications director.

Even if that were so, why would anybody assume that she is the one to do the face-to-face spinning? Wouldn't it be better to find someone who—oh, I don't know—speaks the language, knows the culture, lived there for a while, was maybe born there?

Put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say some Muslim leader wanted to improve Americans' image of Islam. It's doubtful that he would send as his emissary a woman in a black chador who had spent no time in the United States, possessed no knowledge of our history or movies or pop music, and spoke no English beyond a heavily accented "Good morning."

Yet this would be the clueless counterpart to Karen Hughes, with her lame attempts at bonding ("I'm a working mom") and her tin-eared assurances that President Bush is a man of God (you can almost hear the Muslim women thinking, "Yes, we know, that's why he's relaunched the Crusades").

It's hard to say what kinds of programs — which cultural messengers or emblems of freedom — might effectively counter the hatred and suspicions of today's foes. But Karen Hughes would be spending her time more wisely trying to come up with some. To the extent that public diplomacy has worked at all, it has done so as a garnish.

The main course — a nation's ultimate image — is fashioned not by how it talks but by what it does.

Judging The Judge's Judgement

This is also the meme of a more domestic situation - the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice. No one is sure about where he stands on much of anything thanks to the suppression of his records by the Bu$h (mi$)Admini$tration. His lame assertion to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his 50-or-so rulings are his record hardly qualifies him to be Chief Justice in my near-sighted eyes. His declaration that "[I]f the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well then the big guy's going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution" doesn't fill me with a great deal of confidence either.

I don't claim to be a Constitutional expert by any means, but my reading of the fundamental law of our land doesn't open up a lot of Big v Little cases. If anything, a thorough reading of the document reveals a great balancing act among the various issues facing the Founding Fathers. For every give, there is a take, and for every privelege there is a responsibility, whether explicitly mentioned or implied by the context.

Chief Justice Roberts is charged with sorting out these issues when they come before the Supreme Court, and in a sense, his word is final. Can we be sure that he will look at all the factors of a case despite his declaration that 'I have been forthcoming' about his positions? Reading through this article, one is struck both by the lack of determined questioning by the Democrats to get Roberts to say something significant and the dogged defense of Roberts by the Republican members putting words into his mouth through their questions so that he can't be quoted as actually saying them.

All in all, it was a masterful performance of the Bu$hCo Image Manipulation Machine.

Now that he is confirmed and sworn-in, we're stuck with the smarmy bastard until he does the Rehnquist and makes room for his replacement. Just as was demonstrated by Karen Hughes' experiences above, the Roberts Court will be fashioned not by how he smooth-talked the Judiciary Committee but by what he does. That prospect doesn't fill me with confidence.

Over at FindLaw, where the opinions are much more conservative than mine (though I respect them for their reasoned presentation - something our wrong-wing friends could learn from), while they aren't especially enamored of Roberts, they aren't especially upset by his choice either:

From the materials we do have, we know that Roberts started his career as a true believer in the Reagan Revolution -- which aimed, in the judicial sphere, at reversing many of the innovations of the Warren era. We know that he has spent his career as a prominent and highly talented member of the conservative legal community, and served as the "political deputy" in the Solicitor General's Office of the elder Bush's Administration. We know that Roberts has written several quite conservative opinions as a D.C. Circuit judge. We know that, at his confirmation hearings, Roberts repudiated the jurisprudence of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and declared himself to be a legal pragmatist. And we know that Roberts is a man of deep religious conviction. How this alchemy will work in Roberts's case, only time will tell.

Along these lines, it is common wisdom to say that Roberts will be a Rehnquist clone - a very conservative justice, but not one who subscribes to the jurisprudence of original intent. But all that said, we have no idea whether these data points are determinative of anything more than a very high probability that, in the short run, Roberts is going to be less conservative than Scalia and Thomas, and more conservative than Kennedy.

I am not so lukewarm toward Roberts, however. When one is faced with a new sort, one immediately watches those with whom he allies himself. Their actions toward him will reflect their expectations of him, and from some of the joyous reactions erupting upon the news of his confirmation, all one has to do is look at their positions to see what inspires their joy:

"I think it's important to promote a culture of life," Bush said at the third presidential debate last October. "I understand there's great differences on the issue of abortion, but I believe reasonable people can come together and put good law in place that will help reduce the number of abortions."

True to his ignorance, Dumbya thinks that making abortions illegal is the same as reducing the occasions they are considered by women. Will making them illegal end a woman's need for one should she decide that is her only option? It doesn't matter to those who support banning abortion - she shouldn't be violating their virtues by getting pregnant in the first place!

I feel it certain that Roe v. Wade is doomed. I don't like abortion [I much prefer prevention rather than cure!], but I recognize that there has to be an option open to women who make that difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy.

If this nation supported real sex education instead of mindless "Do What I Tell You" abstinance-only campaigns which don't work {see: Douglas Kirby, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, Summary, 8 (2001); Barbara Devaney et al., Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., The Evaluation of Abstinence Education Programs Funded Under Title V Section 510: Interim Report, 1 (2002)}, and allowed readily-available means for pregnancy prevention {82% of parents in the U.S. believe that all aspects of sex education, including information about birth control and safer sex, should be taught in high school. Kaiser Family Found., Sex Education in America, supra note 2, at 32}, then I wouldn't be as concerned.

Teen and women's groups could initiate information campaigns spreading the word about these contraceptions and other means of pregnancy prevention, and the 'need' for abortion would be greatly lessened. I don't think that anyone would dispute that this reduction would be a good thing for the nation.

BUT NO! OUR moral standards are that you cannot engage in sexual activities unless you are in a sanctified monogamous relationship (as determined by OUR moral standards) and are seeking to procreate. Anything else is a SIN!, and we would have to condemn you to OUR Hades for Ladies for violating OUR standards of proper moral conduct.

Want an example of this attitude?

... publicly explaining how to avoid irresponsible sex removes the private responsibility from the individuals engaging in such an activity.

Oh? Does explaining how to avoid irresponsible driving acts remove the private responsibility from individuals engaging in such an activity? Try selling that one to your insurance agent!

Does publicly explaining about firearm safety remove the private responsibility from individuals engaging in irresponsible gunplay? Try selling that one to your local district attorney!

But when it comes to sex, any effort that tries to get across a responsibility awareness message is immediately countered with the 21st-Century version of The Scarlet Letter.

Roberts has long opposed 'mixed sex schooling', and while a member of the Reagan legal team had belittled a 14-year-old Girl Scout, Elizabeth Brinton, who had wanted to sell cookies to Mr Reagan in 1985. "The 'little huckster', Mr Roberts wrote, had already sold 10,000 boxes and wanted to palm one off on the president."

This is the guy that you want deciding the legal application of our laws??? Well, bucko, it's now way too late to do anything about him now! It's not too likely that John Roberts is going to get caught up in something that would be illegal if it weren't a Republican Party power-garnering activity like Tom DeLay and Bill Frist did. We're stuck with him and his 'ear on Pope Ratzinger's opinions'.

I covered Bill Bennett and his latest shenannigan in a previous post, so I won't go into that again, except to point out that he and his gambling addiction are a perfect example of PNAC Pharisseeism.

The list of such Republican hypocrites goes on and on. For a government which actively promotes 'personal' responsibility in such things as workplace safety or global warming where anything economic just might be affected, they sure seem to be hands-on parentals when it comes to anything even vaguely resembling 'irresponsible' personal behavior that doesn't involve anything economic.

For example, if I was at work, and I was leaning on a counter that collapsed under my weight, and was injured, then I am expected not to sue my employer for my injuries, and I am expected to essentially deal with my own healing processes (Personal experience, so don't try to tell me what the law says! I know how easily the law is evaded!) and government runs away from such a personal scenario.

But if I'm intimate with a woman I'm not married to (already something the 'government' wants to contravene by law), and she gets pregnant (another something the 'government' wants to contravene by law), and she decides that she wants an abortion (ibid), they are all over it with their sanctimonious THOU SHALT NOTs.

There is enough paper trail for Roberts that indicates that he would rule for the Big Guy in both cases - the Big Guy in the first being the employer, and in the second case being the government. Individuals will demonstrably be persona non grata in the Roberts Court - unless your cup size is larger than C when you, Vickie Lynn Marshall, appear before the Court.

[Yes, I know Roberts wasn't involved in accepting the Anna Nicole Smith case, but he's now in charge and therefore the decorum and case selection is his responsibility.]

Considering Roberts' evidentiary antipathy toward women in general, and extending that antipathy toward women whose reputations are less-than-June Cleaver-ish, if I were E. Pierce Marshall, I'd be celebrating! I'm going to be $89 million richer soon!

What Would His Daddy Do? The same - apply power by the powerful for the powerful - and damn them D-cup torpedoes! Under that abaya, who would even know how big they are?

Can we get one in Karen Hughes' size?

Copyrighted [©] source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.


This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 10:00 AM :: Comments (8) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!