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Tue

07

Apr

2009

You May Think It's Funny but It Snot
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 18:56
by Jimmy Montague

Political opinion surveys are a cheat. They always ask me what I think but never let me answer.

I remember when I was a young man; my first exposure to political surveys came during the Watergate scandal. I used to get things in the mail that asked questions like
"Do you think President Nixon should be impeached? Check one: (Yes) (No) (D'uh)"
What I actually thought was: "President Nixon should be stripped naked, strapped belly-down across a barrel and sodomized by a herd of burros at the center of the fifty-yard line in front of a sellout crowd at Soldier Field. Treat it as if it were a Super Bowl game: have it televised live nationally and filmed for posterity (No pun intended). Cameras should do slo-mo close-ups and instant replays. Get Howard Cosell and Julia Child to do play-by-play (Oooh, Howard! Oooh, look! That stuff running down his leg looks just like brownie batter!). Hire the Dallas Cheerleaders to shake it for the burros. Order the Marine Band to perform at half-time, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir should sing. Set off a big fireworks display after the show. Pass a law requiring all presidential candidates to view the film. That will keep future presidents honest."

A lot of my friends felt the same way. Back then we all inhaled a lot of -- but that's another story, isn't it? My point is that no survey ever discovered how we felt, because no survey offered us a chance to check the Nixon-over-a-barrel option. So it seemed to me then that political survey authors assume everyone either thinks in binary or doesn't think at all.

By and by it dawned on me that political opinion surveys aren't about discovering what I think. If the authors had the least respect for me they would address me truthfully. They would say: "We don't care what you actually think. Instead, we want you to tell us what we want to think that you think."

Almost 30 years later, political opinion surveys hadn't changed at all. Take, for example, the "2001 Democratic Party Survey" sent me by then House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Regarding my feelings about the Bush administration, Democrats then wanted to know
"Do you believe George W. Bush won the presidency legitimately?" (Yes) (No) (Undecided)
"Did George W. Bush's cabinet selections make you more or less confident about his oft-stated desire to "unite" America and govern with "compassion"? (More confident) (Less confident)


I could have answered "No" to the first question but that answer was only half true, for while I didn't believe that Bush won the presidency, I did believe that Al Gore lost it. The fact that I thought so and why I felt that way were things that Gephardt and his Democrats apparently did not want to know.

I could have answered "less confident" to the second question but, once again, that wasn't the whole truth. Had I been allowed to tell the truth, my response to the second question would have been: "Why do you think I place any confidence whatever in George W. Bush? Is it because you suspect I don't trust Al Gore? Truth is I don't trust either of them."

Judging from the survey questions, Gephardt and his Democrats weren't interested in my true feelings. The fact that they seemed incurious explains why I didn't bother to fill out the survey and why I voted third-party in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.

Having now been alienated from both major parties for more than 12 years, I face today's national crises as a voter who sees almost no hope for the future. For if, in the past, I saw that leaders of our supposedly democratic government lied because they were indifferent to the wants and the wishes and the cares of common people, today I see that our supposedly democratic system is an utter sham. The government designed by Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Adams and the rest -- allegedly built from love of freedom, hope for the future, faith in man and in the power of reason -- is no more. It was buried under a vast heap of lies told by so many liars over the course of so many years that it finally died for want of air and light if it ever, in fact, existed.

The demise of our Constitution was first revealed to America in November 2005, when President George W. Bush declared that the Constitution "is just a goddamned piece of paper." In May 2006, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) buried our old republic for good: she broke her oath of office, wiped her butt on the Constitution and flushed the mess down her office toilet when she took the impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney "off the table."

The Democratic Party took (and still takes) a lot of heat for Pelosi's sellout. Public outrage waxes hotter daily as truth about the treasonous Bush administration leaks out in dribs and drabs. If one can believe E-mails circulated by activists, petitions demanding justice -- supported by hundreds of thousands of signatures -- are dumped into the lap of one or another congressional committee every few days. The fact that Democratic leaders' damage-control efforts are transparent and increasingly shrill reflects the heat that Pelosi and her Congress are taking.

On March 5 of this year, for example, I got two congressional E-mails. The first came from the office of Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL). Wexler's message trumpets the fact that former Bush gangsters "Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have finally agreed to testify under oath and under the penalty of perjury regarding the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. Rove will also be questioned regarding the politically motivated prosecution of former Gov. Donald Siegelman of Alabama."

The second message came from the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Leahy's message heralds the Senator's proposal for ". . . a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney Administration." Said abuses ". . . may include the use of torture, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws." Those things ". . . were wrong and must be fully exposed so [they] never happen again."

When I said Democratic damage control is getting shrill, I meant that the lie in Wexler's message is there in plain sight: Out here in the real world, nobody is "asked" or "agrees" to comply with a subpoena. If you or I are served a subpoena, you or I appear in court as ordered. If we don't show up, big ugly goons sporting sheriffs' badges drag us out of our homes and haul us into court. If we won't consent to be hauled, they hose us down with pepper spray, handcuff us, slap us around, and drag us to court without our consent.

Wexler's office wants us to believe that Karl Rove and Harriet Miers live under a different set of rules. When they are served a subpoena they are supposedly free to treat it as an invitation, which they can accept or decline as they please. And so it's nice of Karl and Harriet to "agree to appear before Congress" and testify under oath at a Congressional investigation. The truth is that when Congress subpoenas a witness, that subpoena carries the same power as the subpoena the local judge serves on you or me. If Harriet Miers, for example, doesn't appear when she is summoned, Congress can send big ugly goons sporting federal marshals' badges to Harriet's house and have her hauled in to testify. If Harriet won't consent to be hauled, the goons can cuff Harriet's hands behind her back, shove a baton up her nasty ass and frog-march the old bitch down to the capitol building, where she can choose to testify or go to jail for contempt. This business of Harriet and Karl refusing to testify has only dragged on for so long because Wexler and his Democratic colleagues (for whatever reason) refuse to do their duty.

The lie in Leahy's message is likewise plain to see: If you or I do something wrong, such as kidnap a child (extraordinary rendition) or rob a grocery store (override of laws), authorities will not be content if we confess our wrongs and promise never to do wrong again. Instead we will be arrested. If we resist arrest, it's likely we'll be shot. If we are arrested (and if we survive the shooting), we will certainly be tried whether we confess (fully expose our wrongs) or not, and we will be sent to prison if convicted.

Leahy's office wants us to believe that the crimes of federal officials are different from crimes that you or I might do. Crimes that we commit should be prosecuted and punished. Crimes that federal officials commit should be exposed and publicized -- and forgiven. Says Leahy: "Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened. The best way to move forward is getting to the truth, finding out what happened, so we can make sure it does not happen again." According to Leahy, then, if you and I did a murder and were hanged for our crime that would be justice, and justice is good. But if Dick Cheney were hanged for treason (outing a CIA agent) that would be vengeance, and vengeance is bad.

So it is that one real message Democrats are sending is: We have two criminal justice systems in this country. One system operates on the premise that justice happens when ordinary people are punished for their crimes. The other system operates on the premise that justice happens when influential people are forgiven their crimes. One system features hard-nosed judges and prosecutors who take no nonsense from common criminals and punish them harshly. The other system features sympathetic judges and prosecutors who scold influential criminals, slap their hands, and send them to bed without supper.

Having come this far with me, readers may have noticed that somewhere in the distance between my pot-headed youth and my physician-haunted retirement, I seem to have lost my sense of humor. If you're one of those who noticed, I'm only here to tell you that you are right, and that you should quit laughing, too.

The class of people who presently govern this country -- Democrat and Republican -- aren't laughing with you. While you sit with your beer and snicker and sneer at stupid politicians and their stupid opinion surveys and the outrageously stupid lies they tell, they are fitting America for a set of chains from which Americans may never escape. If a life of debt slavery under an Orwellian dictatorship doesn't appeal to you, the time to act is now.
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