So Dick Cheney is mad at the New York Times for “treasonously” printing information about the Administration’s antics? I suppose Dick thinks we should just trust him and the rest of the gang. Let’s tally up what they’ve done with the public trust so far:
- Trumped up WMD evidence to justify going to war in Iraq.
- Ignored reconstruction experts and decided to treat Iraq Reconstruction like a Presidential transition, assuming it would all work out.
- Had the NSA conduct domestic eavesdropping without first gaining search warrants from the special secret court created for this purpose.
- Had the NSA turn away Department of Justice lawyers looking into the legality of those NSA actions, saying they did not have the requisite security clearance.
- Okayed the creation of a massive database listing all the phone numbers called by customers of various large telephone companies. This is reportedly the largest database ever created. What is keeping the NSA from keeping copies of all the emails Americans send or tapes of all the phone calls Americans make? The Administration’s belief that it would be an invasion of privacy? Or just the impossibility of such a large database?
- Decided torture was okay.
- Changed the FDA’s role from ensuring the safety of pharmaceuticals to applying the conservative agenda to the distribution of contraceptives.
- Redacted portions of a NASA report that supported the existence of global warming.
- Generally, took the science out of federal regulations.
- Thought Brownie was doing a great job.
- Bashed Democrats as traitors for proposing an Iraq withdrawal plan and then hours later had the military announce the very same plan.
- Raided a Congressional office in an Executive Branch power play.
- Announced they will ignore certain legislation even as W signs it into law (the so-called signing letters). Seriously! Can you believe these tools!?
- Demanded the line-item veto.
- Generally, bent the Rule of Law into the Rule of W (and Dick).
You’re doing a great job Dickie! What democractic institution do you plan on shivving in the back this week? This Administration realizes they have to leave office after the next election, right? They sure seem to be pushing an Imperial Presidency (and not a very smart one) down our throats.
The Rule of Law (TRoL) and the Super Bowl. (Haha, TRoL, I really like that as an acronym.) If you or someone you know is a fan of the NFL, you may have heard about this year’s officiating controversy — namely, that the officiating during the NFL playoffs has stunk. Unfortunately, this continued into the Super Bowl.
One example: Seattle WR Darrell Jackson’s TD catch in the first half that was called back due to penalty. Before he caught the pass, Jackson reached out and touched the nearest defensive player with his hand. Offensive players are not allowed to do this because it creates separation from the defensive player and gives them an unfair advantage in catching the ball. This is called offensive pass interference and Jackson was guilty of it. But it was a bad call.
Why? Because it’s the equivalent of a police officer giving you a speeding ticket for going 36 in a 35 mph zone. Jackson barely touched the guy and he didn’t create separation that wasn’t already there. The official in the end zone should have used more common sense in deciding whether to throw the flag. He should have used his discretion. Instead, it appears he saw the violation and decided a violation is a violation.
This is a theme I will return to often when I talk about TRoL. We seem to want a world with rules and laws that can be enforced absolutely. No such world is possible. We will always need decision-makers at the sharp end of the law who possess and use discretion.
The Rule of Law again. One point today: it’s damn fragile. This is well-illustrated by Mark Bowden’s book “Killing Pablo,” which is about the hunt for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in the late 80s and early 90s. (To bring my last two entries into a full circle of sorts.)
Pablo Escobar single-handedly made a mockery of The Rule of Law in Colombia. If a candidate for a local government seat spoke out against him, Pablo had him killed. If a candidate for national office spoke out in favor of extraditing drug lords to the United States, Pablo had him killed. If a prosecutor tried to indict Pablo for assassination, Pablo had him killed. If a judge signed an arrest warrant for him, Pablo — you get the idea — had him killed. And sometimes Pablo had the target’s family killed too. It got so bad the judges went on strike and the Colombian government effectively sponsored death squads to counter Pablo’s assassins. Obviously, Pablo was not a big believer in The Rule of Law and nobody had the power to bring him into line.