pre-rant: read this week's New Yorker piece on Patrick Henry College.
on with the rant -
example 1: two years ago, two NY Times reporters were handed by a
senior admin official the name of valerie plame, as a CIA operative, in
order to smear her husband, a former diplomat who was accurately
calling George Bush a liar about plutonium in Nigeria. maybe not a big
deal, either the leak (who cares?) or the plutonium (no one believed
him anyway) but revealing the information - the CIA part - was a crime,
not to mention a clear act of betrayal of national security (the
maginitude is not at issue).
if you squint, it almost looks like treason (it certainly DOESN'T
look like Supporting Our Troops). and somebody in the White House
committed it, on purpose, for patently, obvious and cynical, pro-Bush
a special prosecutor, reasonably (though surprisingly) was appointed
to find out who.
And the NY Times reporters, who were clearly used by the source for
partisan smearing, are nonetheless standing firm, not revealing who it
was. A promise, even one to a professional smear-artists, is still a
They are a High 9 eye-roll away from jail.
To sum up: A member of the white house staff places Bush-Cheney '04
ahead of national security, and two NY Times reporters may end up in
jail for it.
(tangentially, Robert Novak, who famously printed the same
leak/smear, is not on the hook for the pokey - and he won't say why.
And yet, he still draws a paycheck from a host of companies that trade
in 'news' - discuss)
example 2: The High 9 last week decided that the government can take
No, they didn't really. Well, yeah, they sorta did - but that's not
all they said. In fact, it's not even the main thing they said.
What they actually said was that it is not the role of the federal
government to dictate to states or localities what they may or may not
throw into their own local Eminent Domain grinder, as long as that
state or locality appears to have the 'public good' in mind. clearly,
a decision frought with dangers, and the case presented to the High 9
was a particularly offensive one: throwing ancient retired people out
of thier lifelong homes to make way for a mall. yuck. however, the
elected officials - and, therefore, ostensibly - the electorate of some
snobby NE hamlet thought it sounded good and the High 9 said little
more than, "my name's Paul and that's between Y'all."
So what do we, as students of American Info-tainment, know about
Eminent Domain and what happens when private interests hijack it? Any
takers? If not, allow me my favorite example: if there is a single
Eminent Domain case pertinent here - one where a government clearly got
in bed with rich boys and shit all over everybody else - it must be the
backstory to the Ballpark at Arlington, the stadium that now prints
money for the owners of the Texas Rangers where once nice houses of
nice families stood. As trampled-freedom stories go, its no more
horrible than many runaway stadium deals except for one postscript: it
launched George Bush to the Texas Governorship.
So, big picture, kind of an important case.
And its about as one-sided as ugly Eminent Doman cases get - rather
than try to buy expensive land, some rich boys bought themselves a
cheap local government, which promptly handed over to them all the land
they wanted, current owners be damned (Dubya was the grinning frontman)
(yes - they did it as an 'authority' - like that matters).
Just the kind of case you'd like to think a body like the High 9
would pounce on - and just the kind of case they opted to let slide
last week, in the name of state and local sovernienty.
Now, is ANYONE please with that decision? Who would we EXPECT to be
pleased? Any takers?
Well, if history and ideology matter a lick, you might expect that
those who back Dubya on matter of Federalism (less of it) or Greed
(more of it) or Dubya himself ("8 years of Jed, then P will be 40")
would welcome the decision.
Afterall, its got all the ingredients: Greed, Dubya's own personal
history and - best of all - limits on government power. Call it
State's Rights, for lack of a better term.
Because that's what this decision was: the High 9 deciding to NOT be
the one branch of government responsible for ruining somebody's greedy
fun - which is to say, they actively chose to NOT make an 'activist
This was clearly not the work of a Big Government Court.
Only, the voting among the Justices was inconvienant to Dubya's
current political needs.
See, roughly speaking, the Court's rightwingers voted against this
decision, the others for it.
In other words, the rightwingers voted FOR a Big Government/activist
decision, the others against.
Again, Rightwingers, pro-activism; leftwingers, strict construction.
And yet, in the right's ever-expanding Every-Day-Is-Opposite-Day
circles, the cry is growing rapidly that this was a 'vote to take your
property.' I know that, because I heard two nutjob right wing radio
hosts say just that on their shows this weekend - and then attack the
decision as 'just another example' of the court's 'liberals' being
So, to sum up: The court - supposedly stacked 5-4 with Dubya
enemies - felt compelled to vote in FAVOR of abusive eminent domain
(which Dubya not only favors but owes his career to) to AVOID being an
'activist' or 'Big Government' court - precisely the label Dubya has
and will continue to attack them with.
So What Did We Learn Today? Well, it's 2 instinces where Dubya is
greatly benefitting from. or being shielded by, the very people who
could - and perhaps should - do him harm. And he's able to do so only
because - ONLY because - these 'opponents' have some regard for thier
own professional conduct in fields where Dubya has demonstrrated that
he does not.
In short: His opponents are more honest, more moral and flat better
people than him - so he wins.