Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Moron Twins*

Although I love slapstick comedy, I sadly wasn't able to watch the "Yes, We Have No Dictators" song and dance routine from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this afternoon.

But I've had the pleasure of looking over some of his statements, and it's clear just how much he has in common with our president omniscient and wise leader, King George the Awesomest.

At times, Gonzales echoed the president's tried-and-true method of talking to his critics as though they're severely retarded six-year-olds:
"Our enemy is listening," he said. "I cannot help but wonder if they aren't shaking their heads in amazement at the thought that anyone would imperil such a sensitive program by leaking its existence in the first place."
That's right, Timmy. Old Osama didn't even dream that we were using this new-fangled "eavesdropping" technology -- until some sad sack Democrats and Al Qaeda lovers let the secret slip. Let's hope they don't spill the beans about our new "aeroplane" either.

But at other times, Gonzales shifted gear, and spoke to the senators as though they were only mildly-retarded eight-year-olds:
President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale.
If the first statement didn't make it obvious, this one sure did -- President Bush wrote this speech himself. The logic is bad enough, but the grasp of American history is even worse.

First of all, I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps Presidents Washington and Lincoln didn't do electronic anything while they were in office. Second, in his fuller statement, Gonzales smirkingly invoked General Washington's interception of British communications. Hmmm. Didn't that come during the Revolution and before the Constitution? (The Constitution? You know, the guiding legal document of this country? The one you're in charge of?) And third, if you think anything electronic was done on a wider scale in the Victrola era of Woodrow Wilson or the radio days of FDR than it can be now with all of our internets and such, you're insane.

This is the best they've got? Take One: "The terrorists are so relentless and diabolical that we have to destroy our Constitution to stop them, but at the same time, they're so stupid and lazy that they didn't think we'd be eavesdropping." Take Two: "We didn't break the law because other presidents broke it first, even though it hadn't been passed yet."

Right. Again, I sleep the sleep of angels knowing these functional illiterates are in charge.

(* They're not really twins.)


RightWing said...

I don't understand why this is even an issue. Congress authorized wiretaps without a warrant period.

To Wiretap or Not to Wiretap

Get over it!

Otto Man said...

No, they didn't. The Patriot Act relaxed the conditions of wiretap surveillance, but still required a warrant. Under FISA, the president has the ability to get wiretaps immediately and only has to go back to get a retroactive warrant within 72 hours.

And if you think this is somehow liberal grumbling, you might want to check out what hard-core conservatives like former Clinton impeachment manager Bob Barr, Reagan Revolution architects Grover Norquist and Paul Weyrich, David Keene of the American Conservative Union, and others are saying about this. These are long-time conservative activists, and they have all condemned this in no uncertain terms. Arlen Specter has even said impeachment is a possibility here.

So, no, I won't get over it. This country has operated under a system of checks and balances and law and order for over two centuries. If you'd rather live in a dictatorship, feel free to move.

S.W. Anderson said...

Here, here, like O.M. said.

I'll add it's not only against statutory law, it's unconstitutional. Period.

If we happen to find ourselves stuck with a president and/or attorney general who don't get it or don't want to get it, that makes it a choice between unfit, unsuitable, maybe even criminal, officials and the Constitution. Which means, the official's gotta go.

S.W. Anderson said...

One of the highlights of the hearing was when Sen. Lindsey Graham got going with a lengthy question and basically was so wound up and into it he didn't really stop talking, but just paused slightly to elicit Senor Rubberstamp's agreement.

Well, Rubberstamps said, "yes, I understand," not that he agreed with what Graham was saying. He followed that up with a kind of game smirk. And the way it went down, Graham kept going on and on, as though Rubberstamp had agreed with him, which wasn't the case.

This left Graham looking more than a little ridiculous.

And gentleman and standup guy he is, Senior Rubberstamp took no pains afterward to clarify his position. This, in perfect Bush & Co. fashion, leaves him free at a later time to be able to deny he ever said or agreed to any such thing.

All this with a room full of witnesses, a chairman who's supposed to catch such foul balls, TV cameras, etc., and didn't nobody set the record straight.

Only in Republicanland, which is kind of like Fantasyland, minus the fun factor.

Thrillhous said...

I read that Arlen Specter didn't even feel it necessary to put Gonzales under oath. That tells me right there that nothing useful would come of his testimony. Remember the oil execs?

Mr Furious said...

"... they're so stupid and lazy that they didn't think we'd be eavesdropping

And even if they found out, they're so stupid they'd eventually forget about it if the media and this pesky Congress would shut up.

Mr Furious said...

"Don't kid yourself, Jimmy, if a cow (evil-doer) ever got the chance he'd eat you and everyone you care about."

Love the "aeroplane" reference, OM.

Feel free to pop on over and validate the excessive amount of time I wasted posting on this stuff yesterday and last night...

Otto Man said...

Nice catch on the Troy McClure voice, Furious.

On the off chance rightwing comes back here, let me add that the choice isn't "to wiretap or not to wiretap." That's a false either-or set up byb the president. Democrats have always been for wiretapping al Qaeda, and have worked with Republicans to make that easier (Patriot Act, FISA alterations, etc.)

The problem here is that Bush is wiretapping without warrants in clear violation of several laws, countless court precendents and the 4th Amendment. He did all this in secret, while insisting that he was still getting warrants for all wiretaps. (See "Liar" post below.)

He broke the law and lied about it. And worse, he's insisting that he has the right to keep breaking this law and anything else he wants to break, because he's somehow above the law. That's what this is about.

Mr Furious said...

Go read this excellent piece at slate.com. Here's a snippet:

The Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 not only does not authorize Bush's warrant-less snooping but clearly and specifically prohibits it by prescribing the FISA court system as the "exclusive" method for authorizing electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes. With a little help from the white paper, however, that protection goes aumf as well; Gonzales proposes that ... King Zenith can wiretap whomever he wants ... or, alternatively, [FISA] be dismissed as an unconstitutional irrelevancy.

Bush's message to the courts, like his message to Congress, is: Make way, subjects. ... In the Hamdi case, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 8-1 ... wrote "a state of war is not a blank check for the President." The Justice Department memo, however, cites Hamdi as ballast for its stance that when it comes to spying domestically, Bush has not only a blank check but a wallet full of no-limit platinum cards.

Go read the whole thing.

Otto Man said...

Great Slate piece. Weisburg has been on fire with this.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

I'd be lying if I said my men weren't committing crimes...

Otto Man said...

Well ... touché.