Is That Justice Scalia In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?
February 2, 2006
R. D. Kushner
In the tsunami-like wake of the roiling Abramoff scandal, one might think that jurisprudence would be riding high on an evanescent sea-foam of political morality. With members of Congress repenting for their sins, by donating millions of dollars in dirty lobbying money to charity, it may come as a surprise to the willfully ignorant that there is still a lot of housecleaning left to do. Bad habits are hard to break, particularly when there are no penalties for impudent behavior.
The law is full of gray areas where the rich and powerful can hide from what ordinary Americans consider illegal and immoral. As the Bush administration offers their pathetic rationale for domestic spying without the use of easily accessible warrants from FISA, Americans can fully comprehend the legal impunity adopted by a White House that shoots first and asks questions never.
In this Bush-World anti-culture Americans have become increasingly desensitized by a propaganda campaign that says all facts are malleable. Both sides of an argument are now considered fair and balanced simply because they receive equal air time; even if both sides of an argument are lies. Remember, America is no longer a place where a homemade pornography tape exposed to millions of people embarrasses one's sense of decency. In today's America, such tapes buoy fame and fortune, and create superstars like Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson. It seems as though a new kind of information indifference, culminating in an unhealthy infatuation with entertainment news, has completely replaced any notion of civic mindedness or social responsibility. Reality is increasingly for entertainment only; bad news is a bore, and a thing of the past. Perhaps the reason Karl Rove objected to a, "pre-9/11 view of the world," was that it was based on an objective view of reality.
The irony is that reality is far more interesting than Reality TV. Americans know every sordid detail of James Frey's life, but other reality-based events, that should create a hoary media rut, barely make a blip on the radar. Just after a house full of Pakistani civilians were killed by bad intelligence, a Republican Senator offered this amoral atonement: "We apologize, but I can't tell you that we wouldn't do the same thing again." It will come as no surprise that this same Senator fought to legislate a ban on terror and then sat on his blood-stained hands when the President offered a signatory note equivalent to, "My signing of this bill indicates that I will abide by it unless I decide not to." If John McCain had any sense of decency he would have confronted the president and demanded that he remove this blatantly pejorative appendix to the ban on torture. Who will judge when this president has overstepped the rule of law? Will The Supreme Court intervene to confront McCain and his Congressional accomplices to keep them from becoming the right wing of the west wing? Not likely.
In a recently published article on ABC News Online, it was reported that Antonin Scalia was playing with his balls at a Federalist Society meeting during John Roberts' confirmation hearings. His tennis balls. Shocking indeed. This story broke almost four months after the fact, and ended up as far below the fold as Karl Rove is right of Dr. Martin Luther King. What are the facts of the story? There are no facts, this is America! With enough 30 second commercials during prime time, even a 'C' student, formerly an alcoholic with a cocaine problem, can be elected President. And with a few more 30 second commercials, a decorated war veteran with three purple hearts can be transformed from a War Hero and a promising Presidential candidate, into a lying, unpatriotic, opportunist.
Justice Scalia took a little vacation, which was paid for by an organization which proselytizes for conservative ideology in the United States Courts. This organization used its deep pockets to pay for a Supreme Court Justice to attend a conference. Question: Would that Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, owe the Federalist Society something in exchange for his all inclusive three day vacation at one of the country's top resorts, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bachelor Gulch, Colorado? Of course not. The politicians who were wined and dined by Jack Abramoff, probably didn't feel compelled to do him any favors either.
The balance of power in the United States of America is way off center. In America today, influence is routinely bought by the rich and the powerful. It is money well spent; all branches of government are now enslaved by the same forces that shape every other corner of the "free" market. Tax cuts continue to funnel this country's wealth away from those who need it most, while politicians sell lies and half-truths to a voting public that is desperately hoping that behind the next deceit is the dream of health care and the promise of retirement.
The American dream has been spoiled by political and economic greed; and a free society, once an exemplar of Democracy, is now increasingly ignorant of its own failures. What kind of society uses a perpetual "war" to rationalize a political agenda that would have been morally and socially unacceptable at any other moment in history, and that has no equal except in the plutocracies and dictatorships of the past? Americans should be embarrassed; too many Americans are not. The false prejudice that America is always scrupulous, masks a tide of government corruption that threatens to bastardize the Constitution itself; trampling on Civil Liberties is justified by a bigoted nationalism masquerading as self-preservation.
The current administration is teaching Americans a lesson about the relativity of truth, by defending its abject failures and its radical agendas on matters as diverse as domestic spying [justified by Alberto Gonzalez], the right to torture detainees [trumpeted by Dick Cheney], and Hurricane Katrina disaster relief [the administration's stonewalling on the investigation has even raised the eyebrows of Republicrat Joseph Lieberman]. The George W. Bush White House has tried to spin their failures into victories with a shell game of fear-mongering and schoolyard machismo that would even make Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez proud. And while this is going on, what are the other two branches of government doing?
Well, they're raising money for their reelection campaigns, or in the case of Justice Scalia, mixing a little business with pleasure. Congress, and The Supreme Court, have shown their aptitude for sleeping with the enemy, and then offering legislation to the highest bidder. Anyone with an even remotely objective view of reality [the kind of view that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove detest] must admit that there are serious issues of corruption infiltrating all levels of the American Government. The highest political offices in the United States have become agents of a corrupt free market, trading shares in political capital.
In this atmosphere, politicians only pander to the public when they must feign enough interest in their constituents to garnish votes which they purchase with millions of dollars of commercials advertising empty promises and political pleasantries. The President's recent State of the Union speech is case and point: say whatever it takes to gain public confidence, and then immediately pursue agendas that render those hollow promises into so many lies. This is followed by tactics which seek to justify all political transgressions by fear-mongering, creating an atmosphere of political divisiveness, and repeating lies and half-truths with stoic conviction. The Bush Administration has become an expert in information manipulation, to a degree that would put the KGB to shame; and the complicity and the corruption evident in the Supreme Court and the Congress are as clearly a part of the problem as the administration itself.
When a corporation lies and cheats and endangers the public interest, Americans have historically counted on the Government to protect them. When it is the government itself that is a danger to the American public, how can it be restrained? If Americans want to be the shareholders of democracy, it's time to start holding government accountable for its failures.