Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Indict Bush?

There is some debate in Canada on whether George W. Bush should be indicted for war crimes during his upcoming visit to the country. It would certainly be fitting for him to be prosecuted under Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. This law was passed in 2000 and was modeled after the rules of the International Criminal Court.

Under this law, anyone who commits a war crime may be prosecuted by Canadian courts. The law covers any breach of the Geneva Convention, including torture, willfully depriving prisoners of war of their rights to a fair and regular trial, and attacking another country in the knowledge that such attacks will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians.

Hmmm…ring any bells? Abu Ghraib; the estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths since the March 2003 U.S. invasion; the redefining of POWs as “enemy combatants” and holding them in Guantanamo Bay with no trial, no charges and no access to lawyers or any family members. Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

After World War II, the Allied tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo ruled that countries had no right to invade other countries; any national leader who staged such an invasion could be tried for waging an illegal war. The United Nations has outlawed all aggressive wars except those authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

As for the Bush administration’s attempt to redefine Afghan POWs as “enemy combatants” – similar reasoning was used by the Japanese during the 1946 tribunal. They reasoned that since they’d never signed the Geneva Convention, it didn’t apply to them. They were still convicted of mistreating Allied POWs.

But whether Bush should be indicted for war crimes is probably moot. Kind of like wondering if you “should” intervene when you see a strapping 350-pound muscle-bound man, with an Uzi strapped over his shoulder, tampering with your car. “Should” becomes more like “is this worth getting obliterated for?”

The most obvious solution would be for the U.S. to impeach Bush. Unfortunately, his harem (formerly known as Congress) shows no signs of doing this.

Last year, Belgium filed a war crimes suit against Bush. Boy George threw such a tantrum that Belgium not only withdrew the suit; they also changed their own war crimes law just to soothe the 800-pound gorilla.

So, the stalemate continues. However, if our allies, to whom we are heavily indebted, decided to call in these debts and thereby shatter the U.S. economy, who would be the tougher 800-pound gorilla? The world’s mightiest military machine vs. its creditors who could derail it? Would the U.S. still be able to invade other countries if the entire U.S. Treasury has been foreclosed by its creditors? Or, conversely, would the international financial offices in Europe and Japan be able to foreclose on the U.S. while American tanks are bearing down on them? Talk about gridlock!

Let’s hope there can be a civilized solution to The Bush Problem before the above scenario becomes likely.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Privacy: Going, going...

Privacy; control over your own personal information: ah, the memories...

It’s not enough that the banking/finance industry ordered its prostitutes, er, uh, “legislators” to delete any last shred of consumer privacy.

For several years, the California legislature kept trying to pass a privacy measure for the state’s banking customers. Each year it got defeated by an avalanche of money from the banking industry. Finally, an initiative was headed for the ballot, which was even stricter than the measure that got defeated each year in the legislature. Opinion polls showed the measure would pass by a landslide. Suddenly the banking industry got all warm and fuzzy and said they wouldn’t oppose the privacy measure currently in the legislature (for the Nth time) if the stronger measure didn’t appear on the ballot.

Technically, the banking lobbyists kept their word. They didn’t fight the measure – in California. Instead they went to Washington, where they lobbied (and paid and paid) for a federal measure that would prevent any state from enacting privacy protections for bank depositors. Some of the call girls, oops, Congresspersons who voted for (and passed) this measure are the same ones who also talk about “states’ rights” out of the other side of their mouths.

So, that was one nail in the coffin for privacy rights. Another nail (and of course the Patriot Act also counts as a “nail,” maybe several) is the new electronic passports that are supposed to be ready for us at the end of 2005. Your new passport will be encoded with a microchip that contains your basic personal information: name, date of birth, office where the passport was issued, and you photo (plus God knows what else). This information can be accessed remotely (from a distance of up to 30 feet) by an agent using a scanning device.

Privacy advocates, as well as the governments of England, Canada, Holland and Germany, among others, have been trying to have this data encrypted, so that an unauthorized person won’t be able to access this personal information. This could lead to a whole new wave of identity theft, as well as general snooping by a whole army of John Ashcroft-types who would love to know all about YOU. (Hey, you don’t have anything to hide, do you? Are you guilty of something?) These electronic passports would also make it easy for terrorists to target Americans traveling overseas. (You’ve finally mastered that fake Canadian accent for your next overseas trip, and it’s all down the tubes; a little electronic gizmo will give you away.)

Predictably, the Bush administration is against this encryption of personal data.

Even worse, to give new life to all those lame tinfoil hat jokes: some people are (unofficially) suggesting that wrapping your passport in tinfoil will prevent it from being scanned and accessed. Oooookay.

Well, at least Big Brother doesn’t have a telescreen in every room – yet. Ahem, pay no attention to that potted plant over on your right. Really, it’s only…

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Majority Is Splintering

The defeated and marginalized Democrats in Congress are still too shocked and awed to even look cross-eyed at Bush. But, from the other direction – well, think of Clinton’s first 2 years in office. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, and nothing got done. Now it seems Bush is being stymied by members of his own party.

There must be an un-named principle at work here (or several). When the majority becomes too large, complacency seems to set in; sort of a feeling of “we’re in control here. Relax. What are these little punks gonna do about it?” When any group gets too tightly in control and too complacent, the group’s power becomes diffused and diluted. Individuals will start focusing on their own individual goals and personal issues, at the expense of loyalty to the larger group.

When Democrats were in control of Congress and the White House in 1992 through ’94, Republicans were the tightest and most cohesive unit imaginable. They did everything in lockstep, and they always seemed to be pulling obscure by-laws and parliamentary procedures out of thin air. No matter how large a Democratic majority was in favor of a certain bill, they’d always be confronted with “this bill needs a 99% majority vote unless it’s raining and the Majority Leader is wearing a yellow shirt.” And the Democrats, for their part, couldn’t seem to agree on what color the sky was.

So far, the Democrats don’t seem to have recovered enough to muster up any sort of group unity, let alone any obscure parliamentary procedures. But, Republicans have scuttled the intelligence overhaul bill that the president and vice president have both pushed for. Bush and Cheney have both contacted congressional negotiators by phone to push for passage of the bill. Congress might meet for an emergency session in early December for another vote on the bill. November 20th was supposed to be their last meeting of the year, but the party leadership doesn’t want to finish out the year with this legislation dangling in the air.

This bill is the product of 3 months of hearings and negotiations following the release of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. It would create an all-powerful position to oversee the CIA and several other spy agencies. A national counterterrorism center would coordinate the fight against foreign terrorists. Two prominent 9/11 families’ organizations disagree on the bill. The 9/11 Family Steering Committee is in favor; 9/11 Families for a Secure America is opposed.

If the bill isn’t passed during an emergency session of Congress next month, lawmakers will have to start from scratch in January 2005. Or the bill could just die altogether, with the bipartisan 9/11 Commission’s recommendations going down the tubes. With a new Congress taking over in January, unapproved bills will expire. New legislators and new committee leaders will have to consider any new legislation.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said “Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and the blame for this failure is theirs alone.”

Further diffusing and fracturing of the Republican majority seems inevitable. Free-market laissez faire economists, religious fanatics who want to propel us back to the 12th century, and military adventurists who want to invade every country that breathes a word of disagreement – there has to be some disagreement among these groups. They all worked together for Bush’s election. Now that they’ve succeeded – let the infighting begin!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Republicans Tighten Their Grip

The Republicans just seem to be getting more and more disdainful of quaint old concepts like respect for voters’ wishes, or being a nation of laws.

This trend started most blatantly during Clinton’s impeachment. How can we get rid of a popular president who just got re-elected? Let’s see, we can prosecute him for having an affair and lying to cover it up. What politician has ever committed such a shocking act?

Next, of course, was the infamous Florida election. What more can be said…….

Next was the recall of California Governor Grey Davis. How do you recall a governor who’s just been re-elected? Doesn’t he have to be guilty of something? No problem. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s immense star power and personal wealth, plus the buying power of a few right wing millionaires, led to Grey Davis’s being steamrolled right out of the governor’s mansion.

Around the same time, in Texas, the legislature was working on a redistricting plan to make the Republicans’ advantage even more lopsided. When the Democratic minority boycotted the legislative vote and left the state, the Republican powers that be tried to have them prosecuted, even though the boycott was legal.

Now we have Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threatening to eliminate the use of the filibuster, in order to guarantee approval of any and all nominees to federal courts, including the Supreme Court if there’s a vacancy.

In their latest attempt to change the rules in the 9th inning, House Republicans have voted to allow the Majority Leader (who happens to be Tom DeLay) to retain his seat even if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury on political corruption charges. Currently, party leaders are required to resign their positions if they’ve been indicted for a state or federal crime that could carry a prison term of at least 2 years. Let’s eliminate this troublesome little rule and tighten our grip even more.

What’s next? If the president’s last name starts with B and he has a fake southern accent, he will not be limited to just 2 terms in the White House. In fact, if his father is a former president and his wife’s name starts with L, he is automatically President For Life. And if he happens to have a younger brother who’s currently governor of a populous southern state, said younger brother shall be the next designated President For Life.

For those of you who live in blue states, or even a blue precinct in a red state: don’t pay any attention to that van parked in front of your house. Those guys in the van, wearing shades and using lots of cameras and electronic equipment are just -- well, don’t worry about it. You don’t have anything to hide, do you? You’re not guilty of anything, are you?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Good For Colin Powell

Colin Powell is resigning. Good riddance! For Colin, that is. He’s way too honest and too rational – too sane – to have the inept and corrupt Bush administration hanging around his neck like an albatross. His presence in the Bush administration gives gravitas and credibility to an administration that deserves neither.

Let’s get all those centrist, non-neocon wimps out of the administration. Let’s replace Ashcroft (yes, there actually is somebody worse) with that lawyer who thinks the Geneva Convention is quaint and outdated. Who would be a good replacement for Powell? Let’s see, how about that loudmouth general who kept announcing that the US would defeat Iraq because “my God is better than your God, neener neener neener.” That’s not an exact quote, of course, but that’s the general drift of it.

Powell’s announcement brings to 6 the number of Bush’s cabinet members who have announced their resignations.

And now Arlen Specter, who was expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, might not get this post after all. He infuriated the Far-Right power base with his statement that Bush might still have a hard time getting judicial nominees through the Senate. That’s right, shoot the messenger.

Also, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has threatened to use what’s called the “nuclear option” – not allowing the use of a filibuster during judicial confirmation hearings. Tactics like this used to be called changing the rules in the 9th inning.

Yes, it’s going to be a very interesting 2nd term for King George. Maybe we should just cut to the chase and begin the Coronation now.

Friday, November 12, 2004

John Ashcroft's Parting Shot

Lame duck Attorney General John Ashcroft is again trying to overturn Oregon’s assisted suicide law (officially known as the Death With Dignity Act). This law was passed overwhelmingly by Oregon’s voters. Several times, Ashcroft has tried to have the will of Oregon’s voters overturned in court. He has been overruled every time, but like a cat that keeps jumping up on the table no matter how many times you throw him down, Ashcroft is yet again challenging Oregon’s referendum. This time he’s taking it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Probably the Republicans’ two most famous slogans are “limited government” and “states’ rights.” And of course there’s that quaint concept of separation of church and state. Meanwhile the Federal Church of the Almighty Government is being called in to squelch Oregon’s voters’ right to pass a referendum. So which is it? "Limited government" or "Big Brother Knows Best"? "States' rights" or the will of a state's voters being squelched at the whim of an unelected federal government official? Are these schizophrenic conservatives aware of their multiple personalities?

When state voters (and Oregon was one of them) pass an anti-gay-marriage law, conservatives are screaming from the rooftops “The People have spoken!” When The People vote in favor of medical marijuana or assisted suicide, these same conservatives suddenly all go deaf and get laryngitis at the same time.

In a 1997 decision, the Supreme Court did not recognize a constitutional right to assisted dying, but encouraged national debate and legislative action at the state level.

Under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, a doctor can prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request in writing. A second doctor must evaluate the patient, who must be notified of alternatives, including hospice care. The request must be repeated after 15 days. Whatever someone thinks about the pros and cons of this issue, the people of Oregon have made their preference known; their will should be honored. Ashcroft has been obsessed with this law since the day he took office.

An insurance company that denies medical care to a patient, and an attorney general who tries to prevent a doctor from carrying out a patient’s request, have one thing in common: they are both practicing medicine without a license and should be prosecuted accordingly.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"Family Values" (Cont'd)

More about “morals” and “family values” – yep, sorry, I’m gonna beat that dead horse again today.

It’s just unreal, unbelievable, that for a sizeable minority (15 to 20%), phony “morality” issues like gay rights, promiscuity vs. abstinence, abortion, etc. are the most burning issue of the day. This is the same Spanish Inquisition mindset that’s responsible for the War on Drugs – by far the most stupid, oppressive and mean-spirited multi-trillion-dollar project in our nation’s history. (This will be written about in future columns; you could fill an encyclopedia with the unbelievable stupidity of the War on Some Drugs.)

For those of you who believe in Law and Order, try this on for size: Every time a gay couple gets hassled by police, or a “massage” parlor gets raided, or a prostitute gets arrested, etc. – there’s a burglary, assault, rape or murder going unsolved. Right? We have X amount of police manpower; therefore, a police officer who’s raiding a topless bar is obviously not dealing with whatever muggings/assaults/rapes are taking place at the same time.

Now, how could we balance the budget and reduce the crime rate (real crime, where one person is victimizing another) at the same time? By deleting every Puritan, Medieval victimless-crime law. Police would be free to concentrate on real criminals, and our government would suddenly not be spending the tens of trillions of dollars it currently spends just to enforce someone’s personal “morals” on other people.

The Spanish Inquisition types, the Taliban wannabes, wouldn’t stand for this, of course. There are too many of them and no politician will stand up to them. Perhaps some of these Medievals would rather just move to one of the police states where religious ideals are strictly enforced (are they ever!). Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria all come to mind. Just think, Bible thumpers and book burners – women getting stoned to death for adultery; women being whipped for exposing too much flesh (like an ankle or wrist). Yessss!!! The Jerry Falwells and Gary Bauers must be champing at the bit! Wanna get away? A one-way ticket to the religious police state of your choice. Doesn’t that sound great?!?!?! Bye.

Perhaps there’s a silver lining in the presence of so many “family values” snake-handling types. The gullibility factor is presumably higher than average among this segment of the population. For any underhanded salesmen or con artists who are down on their luck: Smile; there are millions of easy marks out there. Study an electoral map of all the red states, or even the red precincts in blue states, and mark your territory. There’s gonna be some easy pickin’s. Yeeaahh!! Calling all con artists and sleazy salespeople: Brush up on your snake-oil sales pitch, dust off your aluminum siding, and hit the trail!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Moral" Values?

Approximately 20% of last Tuesday’s voters identified themselves as evangelical Christians. The majority of this group named the “moral values” issues of the day – gay marriage, abortion – as their top concern. Their top priority?!?!? Gay marriage and abortion are the most urgent problems facing us right now?!?!? How can anyone’s priorities get so twisted and lopsided? What kind of insular, sheltered world are these people living in? What century, for that matter?

George W. Bush used a combination of lies, fake documents and good old fashioned steamrolling to bring about the invasion of Iraq. Right before the invasion he actually believed there would be no US casualties (he told this to Pat Robertson in the spring of 2003). There have now been over 1,100 American soldiers killed, and more than 100,000 Iraqis killed.

Osama bin Laden is still at large (what ever happened to “wanted dead or alive”?). Every time an Iraqi is killed, a bereaved relative is ready to sign up with Al Qaeda, whose membership is larger than ever.

In the last four years, we’ve had the first net loss of jobs in over 70 years. The health care situation continues to deteriorate; the number of millions of uninsured Americans continues to increase.

30 years of environmental protections are being derailed by Bush and his corporate masters. They brought him to the dance; now he has to put out.

All of the above problems are too bad and all, but Omigod, 2 guys in San Francisco are trying to get married. We have to Act Now!!! And, (gasp) that slutty girl from the wrong side of the tracks is thinking of having an abortion!!! Call in the Army of God!!

I’m sorry, but we’re talking about a different species here. Their skewed, wacky priorities are bad enough, but when did “morals” and “family values” become synonymous only with promiscuity, homosexuality, and abortion? What is “moral” about a president who invades a country for phony reasons and causes the deaths of over 100,000 people? Which “family values” are exemplified by corporations that are downsizing and outsourcing whenever possible, and reducing (or discontinuing) payments for employees’ health benefits and retirement pensions? We’re talking about families here; real people.

Nobody from the Religious Right has ever said anything negative about the Enron ringleaders or any of the other corporate robber barons of the past few years. It’s time for the Bible Brigade to get their noses out of people’s bedrooms and look up; look around. There’s a world out there.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Why Bush Won

OK, it sucks. The party that created this whole mess for us got rewarded with four more years. How do you single-handedly sink us into a quagmire in Iraq that’s killed over 1,100 US soldiers; turn a budget surplus into a record deficit; and preside over the first net loss of jobs in over 70 years – and get re-elected? It’s not supposed to work this way! Does 2 + 2 equal 13.61471 instead of 4? How did this happen?

Like it or not, there are reasons that the Democrats blew this. A lesson that should have been learned during the 2002 Congressional elections wasn’t learned. It was spelled out on a 500-foot billboard with blazing neon letters, and the Democratic strategists missed it. During the summer and fall of 2002, George W. Bush stuck his neck out. He traveled all over the country, campaigning and drumming up hysteria about the Iraqi menace. He didn’t care what people thought (at least that was the implied message); he had something urgent to tell the American people. He didn’t play good cop/bad cop; he was the bad cop, and he didn’t care. He took a huge gamble and it paid off: Republicans took back the Senate and strengthened their hold on the House.

A dispute over the Homeland Security Department – Democrats wanted the thousands of employees of this new department to get the standard job protections and benefits that other government employees get – got spun into an urgent national security issue, with Democrats being portrayed as jeopardizing national security in order to coddle labor unions. It didn’t matter that Congressional Democrats originated the idea of creating a Homeland Security department and the idea was dismissed by Republicans as yet another big government scheme by Democrats. That story got buried on page 37. When Republicans finally agreed to the idea of creating a Homeland Security department, they grabbed the reins and pretended it was their own idea. This ploy worked because Republican strategists and spinmeisters have mastered the tactic of defining the issues and painting their opponents into a corner.

How did the Democrats respond during the 2002 campaign regarding Iraq and national security? By articulately stating their case – that Iraq was a phony issue and that corporate scandals and the sagging economy should be a higher priority? No. The Democrats tried to win public favor by being Bush Lite. Their response seemed to always translate into either “me too” or “I don’t think so, uh, let’s see, maybe if …”

Let’s bring in some Hollywood archetypes. Who does John Q. Public like better – a swaggering Marlon Brando or a faceless, mild-mannered department store clerk? The rebel who knows what he wants and is gonna go ahead and do what he wants no matter what, or the meek, cautious naysayers and handwringers? The Democratic strategy of “maybe he won’t hit me if I cower and grovel” clearly backfired.

The antidote to this strategy came in the form of Howard Dean, who had a pulse, a spine, spoke bluntly, and almost captured the Democratic nomination. Perhaps Dean would have been demolished by the Republican Machine if he’d gotten the nomination; we’ll never know. But for that brief moment, the Democratic frontrunner was saying what needed to be said, calling Bush the names he needed to be called, and wasn’t wringing his hands and thinking “gee, I want to sit at the popular table. What do I have to say? Whose ass do I have to kiss?”

Even though Dean didn’t get the nomination, the ultimate primary winner should have realized that the aggressive, blunt, define-the-issues and define-your-opponent approach is what works in American politics. You don’t have to like it, but this is the reality; this is how it works. And when the primaries were over and the winner declared, the Democratic strategy went right back to striving for the popular table, and calculating whose ass to kiss and how to be everything to everybody and how to offend the smallest number of people. And here we are……

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

OK, Four More Years of ...

OK, the public has spoken. Four more years for Dick Cheney and his cute little sock puppet. The Republican campaign defined the issues, and painted Kerry into a corner, and Kerry played right into their hands by staying on the defensive throughout the campaign. His wonkish approach and wooden delivery -- fine for the senate but totally out of place in a rough and tumble presidential campaign -- probably didn’t convert a single swing voter.

We’ll never know whether Howard Dean could have defeated Bush, but he wouldn’t have allowed himself to be defined and painted into a corner. Dean had that secret ingredient that had been missing from the Democratic “leadership” for 3 years: a spine. He also isn’t a former senator. Only two senators in our history have gone directly from the senate to the White House; yet the senate produces most of the White House wannabes. A former governor (Dean) or former general (Clark) would have had better odds. It’s hard to think ahead to the 2008 election without being engulfed by nausea and claustrophobia, but: no senators, please.

From a global standpoint, we’ve got to be wondering how we look in the eyes of the world. The international community probably views the stereotypical American voter as a hopeless dumbf**k whose biggest vocabulary word is “Duuuuhhh!!,” followed closely by “Uggg!!” But that’s OK, let them laugh.

We have a president who has presided over the first net loss of jobs since Herbert Hoover; has turned a huge budget surplus into a record deficit; has staged a unilateral invasion of a sovereign nation, leading to over 1,100 American deaths and over 100,00 Iraqi deaths; and has alienated practically every ally we ever had -- and we vote him back in for four more years?!?!?!

Seriously, how would you explain this to a foreigner? A student who gets all Fs (and doesn’t work and play well with others) doesn’t get promoted to the next grade. If an employee screws up every job function that could possibly be screwed up, he/she gets fired. And yet...????...

According to columnist William Greider, things are expected to get worse during the next several years. Job losses, the deficit, environmental destruction, Iraq, al Qaeda: all are expected to get worse before they get better. This could all be a huge albatross for the party in power. So perhaps there’s a tiny silver lining in the election results; the Republicans’ standing with the voters may be irreparably damaged in a few years because of the *&$#&$#*# they’ve created. Meanwhile, what the Democrats need to do is -- to paraphrase the real estate cliché of “location, location, location” -- filibuster, filibuster, filibuster. Do whatever it takes to keep Pat Robertson off the Supreme Court.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Still Undecided?

In case you’re still not sure on Election Eve whom to vote for, let’s take a closer look at several of Bush’s top henchmen (or, if the ugly rumors are true, his puppetmasters).

Dick Cheney: Has there ever been a public leader (in a democracy, I mean) who’s been so secretive, so secluded, so hidden from the public view? Let’s take his secret energy meetings with those mystery guests. What is he hiding? In 4 years the public still has no clue whom he met with. It was even important enough for him to go all the way to the Supreme Court, and sweet-talk his duck-hunting pal, Justice Scalia, into ruling in Cheney’s favor. What is he hiding? It seems mighty important to him that the lowly public doesn’t find out who his co-conspirators were or what sort of energy schemes they were hatching. (Enron, anyone?)

In case you’ve seen footage of any of Cheney’s recent speeches and wondered why the entire audience was cheering in unison: everyone had to sign a loyalty oath before being admitted to the speech. No dissent, please. Seriously! (Yes, here, in the United States of America.) A loyalty oath!

Donald Rumsfeld: Henry Kissinger has said that Donald Rumsfeld was the most ruthless person he’d ever met. Out of all the third world dictators he’d met, and all the Inner Party Communist power brokers, etc., Donald Rumsfeld stood out as the most ruthless. And it figures – look how he’s handled the Iraq debacle. Democracy is certainly a pain in the butt when you’re trying to wage wars and run secret prisons without any public accountability.

John Ashcroft: How in the *#$%&* did this Bible-thumping, book-burning wackoid get any kind of job with the federal government? He was defeated in his home state of Missouri when he ran for the senate. Talk about turning lemons into some dynamite lemonade: get defeated in a run for the senate, then get appointed Attorney General. Unfortunately he keeps forgetting his job title. That’s Attorney General; not Ayatollah; not Grand Inquisitor. Poor, poor John – this pesky thing called a constitution keeps getting in his way.

So many public moralists have turned out to be the total opposite when the camera is turned away: Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, William Bennett, some of the ringleaders of the Clinton impeachment, hundreds (thousands?) of priests, etc. It almost seems like there’s some sort of formula, that the louder they thump the Bible in public, the more of a perv they are when they’re out of the limelight. If this formula applies to John Ashcroft, he must have a whole closet – no, make that a whole second home – filled with every kind of kiddie porn and snuff videos imaginable. (Just guessing here, not making any accusations.)

So, even if George W. Bush is the nicest, hardest-working person in the world (riiiight!!), he hired these three sleazebags to help run his administration. That makes three additional reasons to give Bush his walking papers tomorrow.