JONATHAN DOWNARD photograph

by Jonathan Downard

August 1, 2005

Leaks, Groping, and Fealty:

Attempting to Cope With this Dirty New America

Hello, dear Reader. Turd Blossom? John Roberts? Overzealous airport security? Censorship? The Patriot Act? There are so many Issues to deal with this month that I couldn't single one out. In the muggy, stale air this summer there are so many stenches that it's getting difficult to remain sensitive to any of them. In the past, I've tried to avoid any betrayal of political neutrality, but, in light of recent events, name-calling is a tougher urge to fight than ever.

Leaks: The President's Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, and the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, have apparently given up the identity of an undercover CIA operative, a WMD expert, while the U.S. was knee-deep in using weapons-of-mass-destruction as an excuse for invasion. How this differs from other such instances, such as FBI mole Robert Hanssen spending a fair part of the 80's selling out American spies to the former Soviet Union, for example, is intangible. Leaking the identities of covert operatives is a breach of national security, treasonous, and eligible for punishment with the death penalty. Bush has been aiding and abetting traitors for two years, or so, and should be considered an accomplice in this crime. At this point, it's difficult to see why Rove, Libby, Cheney, and Bush shouldn't all currently be awaiting trial. President Clinton was indicted for lying about/withholding certain information that was irrelevant to national security but, in a comparable time frame, was up to his ass in impeachment proceedings. Bush and Cheney have also reacted quite harshly to national security leaks in the past, but, now that the leaks come from two of their senior administration officials, they are sweeping it under the rug.

Correspondents are calling this "Treasongate."

What's with this "New America"? Are the President and his Cabinet now entirely above the law?

Not only have Rove/Libby destroyed Valerie Plame's ability to serve in her function as a covert agent, but these leaks have created a situation that could be considered a hazard to her personal safety. The motive appears to be somewhat personal: former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame's husband, is considered an enemy of the Bush Administration. Infamous for telling the truth about the Bush Administration's erroneous claim that uranium from Niger had made its way to Saddam Hussein, it seems Wilson is being punished by the highest offices in the country, through the targeting of his wife. They also seem to be sending a mob-style intimidation message to anyone who would defy them or tell the truth about which they may be guilty. Basically, this is like the Corleone family putting a horse's head in Wilson's bed. If this keeps up, we'll soon have left-wingers, Bush critics, journalists, and web-whiners like me swimming with the fishes. Bush, who I've begun affectionately calling King George II, caused me to recall images of the Godfather, saying, "I'm the kind of person, when a friend gets attacked, I don't like it."

The real chill comes from the fate of New York Times reporter, Judith Miller. Jailed for not revealing her source, she is the only one of three reporters involved in this case that has never published information about the agent's identity. This is strangely inconsistent with her history of supporting and reporting the President's bogus WMD claims, a pattern which largely appears to be serving two purposes: (1.) raising public alarm about WMD's and bioagents (2.) promoting interest in Germs, a book she cowrote with two other NYT journalists. If you do your research and read her articles from 2001 on, you will find that she has been using shady sources to back up the "aluminum tube" theory, and others. So why is this reporter, who has clearly been an aid to Bush's WMD agenda, not one of the "friends" King George alludes to in the above quote? What-- is it because she doesn't have a cool nickname like "Turd Blossom" or "Scooter"? She's sitting in a cell in D.C. for defending what every journalist holds as a basic principle and right to performance of the job.

"If journalists cannot be trusted to guarantee confidentiality, then journalists cannot function and there cannot be a free press. The right of civil disobedience is based on personal conscience, it is fundamental to our system and it is honored throughout our history," she read in a statement before the judge.

I also find it odd, in an unrelated note, that several newspapers in the United States decided to either edit or cut a recent Doonesbury comic strip which features the President calling Rove by his nickname. The excuse is that they thought it would be offensive. How could "Turd Blossom" be offensive to us, when Bush calls Rove this affectionate nickname to his face? Never mind we have a President who is fond of flipping cameramen the bird, occasionally, with a devious smirk on his face (which is the one thing I've seen that still commands some of my personal respect for Georgie-Porgie).

Unfortunately, the President of the United States did not have his Press Secretary address this story with hard facts. Nor has he apparently called for an investigation - yet his father used to be Director of the CIA - and also has not given Plame/Wilson a Secret Service detail for protection. He has shown no concern for Miller's incarceration. His credibility rating is now around 40%, which is much higher than a "common thug" could expect... This only proves my theory that many in this country, especially our elders, are still clinging to the "Red, White, and Blue makes it right" ideology.

Groping: At the Outagamie County Regional Airport in September 2004, retired teacher Phyllis Dintenfass set off the metal detector. The 62-year-old said she believed the problem to be pins in her hair and was led to another screening area, where Transportation Security Administration Screening Supervisor, Anita Gostisha, used a handheld wand for further inspection. Gostisha said she was following protocol when she also performed a "limited pat-down search." She said she was using the back of her hands to feel underneath Dintenfass' breasts when the woman reacted.

"She said `How would you like it if I did that to you?' and slammed me against the wall," Gostisha testified before a federal jury. "She came at me and grabbed my breasts and squeezed them."

Naturally, Distenfass maintains she acted in self-defense.

"I said, 'What are you doing? No one's done that to me before,'" she said. "And she kept going ... for what felt like an interminably long time."

Dintenfass denies shoving Gostisha, but admitted to squeezing the agent's breasts, saying "I was mortified that I had done that. I was reacting to what felt like an absolute invasion of my body." She now faces up to a year in federal prison and $100,000 in fines. Sentencing has been set for Nov. 1. The U.S. Attorney, Steven Biskupic, asserts that TSA officers perform a vital service and are entitled to protection from assault. But what about private citizens? Why is it that a 62-year-old woman isn't entitled to protection from what most of us would consider to be a sexual assault? Does this mean that, any time I decide to travel, my scrotum is subject to fondling by any TSA officer who feels the urge?

Since 9/11, our obsession with "security" has tricked us into giving away many of our human rights in the interests of Big Brother's groping hands. A 70-something woman I know had her fingernail clippers taken away from her and was searched like a convicted thief. News flash, America... security does not exist. No matter how much we allow our government to take away from us, we will never be completely (or even close to) safe from malicious people with the imagination to carry out their will. Never. We need to get over this and live in the now, remembering our democratic principles and the rights that our Constitution originally gave us, before we let legislators amend all of our rights away.

Now the "Patriot Act" gives the government the power to conduct roving wiretaps and demand business and library records. By decrying this as Gestapo-style tyranny, in no way am I trying to protect criminals. But you can't start screwing with everyone's basic rights to privacy, etc, in order to catch the few criminals among the many law-abiding citizens. Every American should be entitled to certain expectations of privacy, without government agencies enjoying the power to examine your breasts/genitals, your e-mails, what you watch, what you read, your sex life, your distribution of funds, and the people you decide to visit. I am disgusted by Big Brother's willingness to grope us and violate us in so many ways, and I'm hoping the power of the people can make it stop.

Oddly enough, the government seems to have all of this power over the public now, but the public is being denied the right, so far, to view all of the documents pertaining to the professional record of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. Apparently, it's O.K. for our government to look into the private lives of normal civilians, but it's not permissable for the citizenry to have full disclosure of data pertaining to Roberts' performance before confirming him to one of the highest positions of public service in this country? He has written briefs arguing for the repeal of the Roe vs. Wade decision while working for Republican administrations. What other rights to privacy or choice would he seek to take away? His confirmation would be a slam-dunk for the Republican party, which already has majority control over the House, the Senate, state legislatures, and state governorships; and has won seven of the last ten presidential elections... He's a good little white-male-conservative, like the rest of the GOP-stapo, which leads me to this final topic...

Fealty: In olden days of yore, the king or other such power-monger would require that those within his reach would swear an oath of fealty, or faithfulness, to him, and this was viewed as synonymous with patriotism. The king equals the land equals the people, and all of the relative world's fate rested in one man's favor, etc... But in our moderately modern, yet painfully flawed version of representative democracy, this idea is antiquated and completely contrary to our Constitution. Anybody remember the voice of dissent? Checks and balances? Conscientious objection?

Not so, apparently, with the Republican party. It appears that the Grand Ole Party has become so enamoured of personal loyalties and the exchange of back-scratching that they forget that their duty is to country, not friends or their political party. The Democrats seem to have no trouble fighting with each other, and if they could demonstrate the kind of all-for-one attitude that Republicans seem to throw around, they'd actually be a force to fear. The GOP have a common agenda, a complex set of alliances, and a bevy of corporate backers second to none-- even if they sometimes don't get their stories straight until after events have occurred.

For example, Bush is still backing Bolton. Even after the rest of the country scowled at the idea of having this emotionally violent, unrestrained curmudgeon as our ambassador to the U.N. (might as well call it the rest of the world)... even after Bolton lied about having been interviewed in part of a joint investigation with the Central Intelligence Agency into prewar Iraqi attempts to buy nuclear materials from Niger, Bush won't let go. Why? What does Bush stand to gain from Bolton's involvement in world politics? Why is it so important to King Georgie that a man nobody wants gets a job no one wants him to do?

And then there's John Roberts. Bush has been firing everyone up by pretending to consider numerous women and minorities for the Supreme Court. Then he disappointed nearly everyone by appointing John Roberts, a white male who has failed to express much of a position on anything to anyone ever, with the exception of abortion. The White House continues to assure everyone that Roberts is a reliable, trustworthy conservative, and we wouldn't have realistically expected Bush to go for anything less... But so little is known about Roberts that it's a hard sell to either party, but it seems likely that his confirmation will go forward, based on the Republican dominated Congress that has shown little but fealty to its leader.

And what about the tenacity with which Bush, Cheney, and the various governorships in this country have stuck to policies that are resoundingly not in the best interests of the populace, selling us down the river economically, and otherwise?

Another correspondent wrote, "Karl Rove is loyal to President Bush... Isn't that a form of patriotism?" What doesn't this guy get about representative democracy? Loyalty to the leader in the U.S. is, in no way, equal to loyalty to the country. Collectively, we're the President's bosses. He is supposed to represent us, act in our best interests, and be held responsible by us. Rove, Libby, and anyone else on that shitlist had no right to give up state secrets, even to settle a score for the President. Being part of the "Boys Club" does not make you a patriot, correct, or above the law. Or maybe it does in this dirty, New America. In the last couple of years, it seems rather like Bush is becoming a dictator, the Congress and the masses are allowing it, and the voice of dissent is being silenced.

Well, not mine!

At a very young age, I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance. This greatly alarmed my teachers and classmates, who couldn't stand my conscientious objection. I simply could not subscribe to the idea of pledging my devotion to a banner. At eight or nine years old, I understood that I was saying an oath to an empty symbol, which had little to do with the love of my birthplace. I also will not sing the "Star Spangled Banner." I think it's a beautiful song, musically, and have learned to play a lovely version on the guitar, but I refuse to sing, with hand over heart, a blatant glorification of war and destruction in the guise of patriotic display.

People have given me the evil eye, simply because I didn't buy the little magnetic yellow ribbon for my car, or the side-window mounted flags that were so popular after 9/11. I do not go around echoing, "God bless America." When I have stood up for Muslims' adherence to their beliefs and the idea that terrorism and violence are contrary to their religion, I have been called a liar and a fool. To those accusers I say, I've read the Qur'an, have you? When I have voiced that since Iraq didn't seem to have WMD's and had no significant threat or any real connection to Osama Bin Laden, we had no business taking over their country for them-- I have been called many names, with "un-American" and "traitor" among the tastiest of them. When I have stood up for Michael Moore's right to say what he wants, regardless of the truth, I've been called a pig and a liberal lefty. People fail to realize that I'm championing everyone's rights to expression, not actually taking a political stance. I have stated that the Ten Commandments should not be on courthouse grounds, and that minted money and other public property should have no mention of God or religious statements-- based on the First Amendment...

I've called this president names. I called the previous few presidents similar names. But the last two times, I voted for someone else. This is your president, not our president. Politicians in this country comprise a big bucket of poo: you can stir it around every four years, but it's still the same rancid poo.

I don't believe that one president should be impeached for lying about a simple blowjob, and yet another president lies about war and weapons and oil and intentions, yet emerges unscathed!

I am not a traitor because I believe in America, and not necessarily God. I am in no way un-American because I believe in our country, but not the President. Isn't it still my right to question our leadership and point out violations of our Constitution and/or international law? Isn't it my civic duty to learn as much as possible and attempt to distinguish between the truth and the falsehoods?

Does anyone really have the guts to tell me that I'm not a decent citizen if I don't accept the lies being told to me, turn the other cheek, and bend over for this Neo-McCarthyism that the Republican Party is trying to cram up our asses? Are you going to speak up for your own rights and your freedom, America?

Write to me at mark10_18@yahoo.com for your free copy of the United States Constitution. You can also tell me there what kind of American you think I am.

Copyright 2005, Jonathan Downard

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