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High Crimes or Misdemeanors? Choose the Latter

January 31st, 2006 by dk

A performing magician always wants you to focus on the arm that’s sweeping in dramatic fashion, so you won’t notice the tiny movements of the hand that’s actually doing the trick. Karl Rove has sent President Bush out stumping for his presidential right to ignore the courts and Congress with warrantless wiretaps, with a sweeping and grandiose, glittering display of his presidentiality. They are hoping voters will overlook the ever-longer list of failures and incompetencies this administration has displayed. Democratic leaders are being taunted to gaze intently at the high crime and overlook the misdemeanors.

The typical American voter is ambivalent about the high crime of eavesdropping on Americans without permission. They reason that if it may give them a smidgeon more security, maybe it’s worth the inconvenience. Ever since Dan Rather ambushed George Senior, the family has obsessed with overcoming the “wimp factor.” So George W. Bush says to the media and his political opponents: “Bring it on.”

With a Republican majority in every branch at the federal level, all the president’s men reason quite rightly that Humpty Dumpty is safe on the wall. That is, unless they lose those majorities in the fall elections, watching history repeat itself with a midterm tsunami akin to Gingrich’s Contract with America. All the more reason to stay focused on the Big Issue, the Big Picture, the Big Bully, and the Big Winner. Nine-Eleven.

But the little losses keep piling up.

You have to dig for them, because newspapers and news magazine have only so much space. But liberal talk radio and bloggers now have lots of time or space to fill with all these little losses.

• The lead prosecutor on the Abramoff case is resigning, because he’s suddenly been named by the administration for a federal judgeship.
• Army recruiters have doubled the signing bonus for new recruits to $20,000, while insisting they aren’t being stretched too thin.
• U.S. military forces have seized the wives of suspected terrorists, endangering journalist Jill Carroll, who was kidnapped in retaliation.
• Japan resumed their beef embargo they imposed after the Mad Cow Disease scare, when a meat-packer’s voluntary inspections didn’t catch a spinal column packed with a beef shipment.
• Kyrgyzstan announced they will allow our military to continue to operate from their country near Afghanistan, but the rent is being increased 100-fold.
• New paperwork shows that government assets were refused by FEMA and that FEMA itself pulled out, just when the going got tough.
• Hamas won the Palestinian election and nobody in the White House offered help or advice to the Fatah party to whom they have given billions in aid.
• NASA scientists complain they are being muzzled or harassed when they say anything as scientists that runs counter to White House policy.
• The rest of the NASA staff wonders aloud to one another when the bold “trip to Mars” will begin to show up on their budgets and work plans.
• Detroit innovators wonder the same about the bold hydrogen car initiative.
• Bill Gates and rock star Bono have up waiting for the $15 billion pledged to stop AIDS in Africa. They are taking up the task themselves.
• Medicare Plan D is such a fiasco that governors had to take matters into their own hands and then demand the feds reimburse them.
• Halliburton subsidiary KBR has announced they are going public, which will net the owners (and Cheney, who still owns stock) billions.
• Google kowtows to China’s demand for a censored version of the Web, but refuses to cave to White House demands for access to their trade secrets.
• Iran proceeds with their nuclear plans, noting that the West needs its oil more than Iran needs their approval.
• Wal-Mart and Enron both have trials underway with whistleblowers who can tell secrets from the inside. And Scooter Libby is talking to U.S. Prosecutor Fitzpatrick.
• Exxon reports more profit in a quarter than they have ever made in a full year, while consumers pay record prices and they get more tax breaks.
• Contractors in Iraq report that cash was literally overflowing: stuffed in lockers and stacked in unmarked trucks. Billions are missing.
• China announces plans to begin importing cars to the United States, while Ford lays off 30,000 workers.
• At least one judge on the special FISA panel has resigned in protest for the administration’s claim that getting the panel’s approval was too cumbersome.
• The Supreme Court refuses to play along with the White House and the Justice department on enemy combatants, assisted suicide, and wire taps.
• Weather patterns continue to shift slowly, producing violent storms and record droughts. 2005 was the warmest year in at least 100 years. Tuvalu and Kiribati, both small Pacific island nations, may soon disappear.
• The conservative candidate won in Canada, but his first press conference was used to put the United States on notice that he won’t stand for our planned militarization of the arctic.
• Russia shows a willingness to use energy supplies to squeeze its satellite nations. Georgia and Ukraine show a willingness to disrupt flows to Europe in retaliation.
• The deficit is exploding, yet the president hasn’t vetoed a single spending bill in five years.
• Defense attorneys show that military personnel were given more than a dozen different set of instructions about torture and what is allowable.
• Internal documents show that the FDA ignored its own findings and blocked the so-called “Plan B” contraception.
• Military commanders testify that Donald Rumsfeld was told more than once that troop levels would not be sufficient to win the peace in Iraq.
• The 9/11 Commission, whose formation Bush originally opposed, has raised private funds to keep its work going, giving the administration Ds and Fs in grading its follow-through on their recommendations.
• Senators complain they are not receiving the paperwork they need to evaluate the post-Katrina disaster.
• Osama bin Laden, who first succeeded in attacking us under this president, remains at large and insists more attack planning is underway.

The list could go on and on. The point is this. If the president’s opponents produce a laundry list of misdemeanors of mismanagement, the public’s collective eyes will gloss over at the sheer volume. If the attacks are instead aimed at what he’s done to prevent terrorism, even a high crime of eavesdropping may be acceptable to most Americans.

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