Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Move Over O.J.

O.J. blinked in court today when the charges against him were read. Somebody decided that should be front page news. America inhaled just long enough to eclipse the report yesterday that Congress is looking into allegations that a top official in the State Department, Inspector General Howard J. Krongard, used his "partisan political ties" to not only block investigations, but to completely ignore so-called "security lapses" at the U.S Embassy in Baghdad. Moreover, Krongard allegedly actively censored reports of fraud at the Embassy. (AP)

But, in the final analysis, who cares about "partisan political ties?" Given how quickly we put the U.S. attorney firings scandal to bed, not many. Given the dignified exit of a corrupt attorney-general, it wouldn't seem like anyone, with a pulse in America, gives a flying fajita about how toxic partisanship, in high places, can be.

Reassuring, isn't it, that our military isn't the only branch of government that has been found to routinely black out, or excise key details in reports of detainee abuse, or collateral damage in Iraq and Afghanistan. Equally reassuring when one considers how key parts of e-mails released by the White House, and pertaining to the U.S. attorney scandal, were also censored. But, why should anyone care about corruption in the State Department, the home mortgage debacle, the defeat of the habeas corpus restoration bill today in the Senate when the image of O.J. being handicuffed provides such allure, and such ratings.

Why, too, should anyone care about the "moderate" conservative the president has recommended to be our next attorney-general, retired federal judge Michael Mukasey? Does it matter that, immediately after 9/11, while chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Mukasey was a strong proponent of the dubious tactics the Bush regime employed to hold hundreds of "unlawful enemy combatants" in defiance of Geneva and the Fourth Amendment?

What extraordinary timing, too, now that this unitary executive has made clear his morbid desire to finalize proposed revisions to the FISA law, set to sunset in a couple of months, that allow for warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, the president will, once again, find an attorney general who justified the use of "material witness warrants" as a way to detain "terrorism suspects" without formal charges. (WaPo) While some will argue that Mukasay is a moderate conservate, but that is like being slightly pregnant, no? If he is confirmed, In time, we will see that, apart from the occasional token attempt at dissent, the good judge is really not all that different from Gonzales.

Really, in the end, who cares about electronic surveillance, warrants, habeas corpus, State Department corruption, when we can have a healthy serving of scandal mixed in with our meat and potatoes. Who cares about stealing elections, or tasering twenty-year old students who ask too many questions at press conferences of former presidential candidates in Florida? Who cares if the new Baghdad embassy is being built as a result of "illegal labor trafficking?" (AP) Who cares if the earth burns up as a result of unregulated carbon monoxide emissions from our cars, and trucks roaming California freeways with huge balls of black smog thanks to Nafta? Who cares if we sign nuclear enrichment programs with countries like India while, at the same time, threatening to demolish Tehran for its nuclear enrichment programs? Who cares about non-proliferation with all this spell-binding footage, and audiotape of O.J. Simpson's surreal attempt to steal his own memorabiilia from a Las Vegas hotel.

To paraphrase Henny Youngman: "Take my democracy, please."