Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Two Thoughts

I have nothing original or enlightening to add to the discussion of the NSA surveillance program -- a brief trip to the land of Glenn Greenwald is all anyone really needs these days -- but I will offer up two stray observations that I'm pretty certain will not be duplicated elsewhere:

(1) I was delighted to hear that my father (unintentionally) scheduled a colonoscopy to coincide with "General" Gonzalez's appearance yesterday in the Senate. (As a brief aside, I'll note that I don't recall anyone ever referring to "General" Ashcroft or "General" Reno, but I could be wrong. Then again, I suppose every junta needs as many generals as possible, so I'll forgive the disintegrating Bush administration for choosing to highlight its strongman credentials.) Regardless, my father is a genial crank who has evidently decided to squander his golden years by watching C-SPAN all day and throwing his flip-flops, in Elvisian fits of rage, at the television. He was profoundly irritated that he missed the hearings, though he conceded that the plastic tube was an appropriate substitute.

(2) A quick survey of the Devotional Media (PowerLine, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online) has brought to mind the egregious work of Dr. Welsey Fishel, the political science professor from Michigan State who -- with the aid of the CIA -- helped engineer the operatic corruption of the Diem regime in South Vietnam during the 1950s. So rapturous was Fishel's affection for Diem that he warbled his praises to whomever would listen. In an infamous 1959 article in the New Leader, Fishel observed that
Diem has all the authority and all the power one needs to operate a dictatorship, but he isn't operating one! Here is a leader who speaks the language of democracy, who holds the power of a dictator, who governs a Republic in accordance with the terms of a Constitution. . . . Ngo Dinh Diem did not have to do this. His authority and power at that moment were so absolute.
To paraphrase Frances Fitzgerald, it's as if Bush's stated affection for constitutional order relieves him of the burden of actually abiding by one.