Friday, December 30, 2005

Breed no more Bushes...

> Report: NSA eavesdropping wider than White House admitted
> By Reuters --

There's been a lot written about this since it came out, on every
side and angle of the political fence, so here's the highlights/main

Some people say that since the primary filtering process being done
was essentially pattern recognition and not mainly/initially content
examination, that it was a completely justifiable and essential
course of action. Others say that the sheer volume of communications
data collected, plus the lack of guidelines for its (total) retention
sets a bad precedent in general for accumulating information on
citizens, since there is no guarantee limiting how it will be used,
especially seeing as this administration has also been keeping tabs
on a great many non-terrorist activities that it disapproves of.

In general, there's a fine line of technical
legality/constitutionality that has been invoked here, and even that
has proven to be untenable as a by-the-books, the
interests of leadership and national security have been highlighted,
and the need for utmost speed and efficiency therewith to pursue
them...but all this doesn't mitigate the fact that not only did Bush
avoid the normal warrants court in seeking to gain private
communications intelligence, but that he firmly and defensively
believes it his right as President, as leader, to have such
immediate powers without question. Which, no matter what sort of a
crisis we're in, does not sit well with the explicit structure of
this nation as one under a consistent and balanced-between-the-
branches rule of law (though, neither does the constant
pressure "from the White House" on the legislature to enforce its
agenda, or "from the White House" on the media to negotiate the terms
of its news exposure). As some columnists have commented, it would
have taken little time and practically no obstacles to get warrants
for these taps through the formal court already in place, so why
avoid the legal process -- unless to make a show and a sticking point
of executive authority, as he is now doing?

I suppose the most instinctive thing to say in response to all this
is, "Who does he think he is??" -- does he really believe that as
President he is above the law? And I think the answer to that is a
resounding, "Well, obviously....." -- judging from the way he has
reacted to criticism and challenges from the start of his first term,
and from the insularity and sycophantism that he cultivates (has been
cultivated to) within his circle of advisers. We have seen already
that this has had an extreme influence on policy, leading informants
from various fields to shape their reports to match the results (and
dependent agenda) known to be preferred by the administration. It
has already corrupted the stream of intelligence, and in more areas
than just the sphere of the now/still-ongoing war. Science itself,
logic itself, is under pressure to conform to the wishes of a
temporary (one hopes) regime, instead of holding to the closest
truths it can achieve. That in itself is cause for alarm, especially
in a nation where the structure and succession of power are supposed
to eliminate the perpetual dominance of any single ruler or
dynasty, and to force all politicians to stand or fall on their own
merits, not as part of a party bloc.

The American constitutional ideal of politics is that of public
service done on behalf of the people of the nation (all of them), in
allegiance to the Constitution of the United States -- and no higher
power than that. Not even God, technically, despite those who have
some crackpot idea that this country's Manifest Destiny is to become
an experiment in theocracy instead of in human reason and dignity.
Even the plan (in the Texas redistricting affair and Tom DeLay's
campaign money laundering) for a "permanent Republican majority", by
the literal terms of it, is an arrogant breach of the ideals that the
nation was based on, in spirit if not in clearly-evidential clause,
because the structure was always and ever intended to change to serve
the people, and intending to establish any nominal party or agenda
as a "permanent" controller of government flies in the face of a free
democratic system, announcing itself as a wanna-be Reich whether its
proponents will admit it or not. To an honest politician (wherever
there is such a thing) it's not about the party but about the
people's needs, and not about aggrandizing power but responding aptly
to the changes of the nation itself. The fact that so much, here,
has gone into the gathering of both power and information, clearly
angling to the needs of this administration as if it were the only
one that ever need be considered, sincerely begs the question of
whether aspiring presidents and all politicians ought not only to be
limited in their terms but prohibited from procreating at all (or
adopting, like Julius Caesar did Octavian), so as to spare the nation
the burden of supporting their family dynastic ambitions, and the
secret avuncular grooming of blood-heirs to the perceived throne.
The more obstacles that can be placed in the way of politics-as-
power, the better for us -- it should no more be an adjunct of wealth
and caste than teaching, farming or collecting the trash and doing
what best can be done with it. If that means proposing that the U.S.
Congress and all the highest federal agencies and branches be not
approached with 'family' loyalties in tow, then perchance the
seriousness of that demand would help deter those who have only their
own self-service and permanent empire-building in mind.

Rather ecclesiastical, yes, on the face of it -- though, I'm not so
stupid as to think that celibacy in itself is enforceable nor
wise...just that one not have children to pass on one's reputation
and expectations to, or that will feel obliged to give favours or
follow orders as given by a parent. Or, the (over the long term)
extended politically-influential family that bears some good fruit
and some indifferent, some bad, but all bearing the same trade name
to be grouped by. Neither am I in favour of shamelessly shilling for
one's wife's (or husband's) political career after one's own terms of
office are done.

Politics, in this country out of all others, ought never to be a
means of constructing a false royalty, nor a false sense of
superiority to the citizenry at large. And that, precisely, is the
crisis of political breedership that we have on our hands right now.

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