Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bust Out

Representative democracy is the most fragile form of government. Its survival depends on the good will and intentions of all its participants: voters, elected officials, appointed officials (who are, after all, elected officials once removed), and the hired help of civil servants, plus uniformed military and paramilitary organizations. (Think “police” when you read “paramilitary,” not “Posse Comitatus” or “Aryan League.”)

Disagreements and power shifts are inherent parts of such a democracy. The means through which these take place are what separates a legitimate democracy from a banana republic. Laws and ethics rules can only go so far. A level of common sense fair play must be observed by all participants for any democracy to flourish, or even survive for long.

The levels to which contract has been breached by the Bush Administration and recent Republican “leadership” are only now becoming evident. Today’s case in point: recess appointments.

Recess appointments serve a valuable function, allowing the president to replace sensitive positions while Congress is away, when waiting for their return would be detrimental to the nation’s interest. Not as important as they once were, when gathering a quorum might take a couple of weeks once Congress had scattered to the four corners of the continent, they still serve a valuable function.

It has recently been pointed out that seventeen 2006 recess appointments so blatantly disregarded their accepted purpose as to negate any protestations of good will by the Bush Administration, or their congressional dupes. (Click here for details.)

Creating a bogus forty-one second congressional session for the sole purpose of subverting established laws and principles can most charitably be described as despicable. It is abhorrent to the concepts of fair play and tolerance of opposing viewpoints that democracy depends on for its life blood. Key elements of the Republican party leadership – George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, John Boehner, Dennis Hastert, Karl Rove (unelected, but still culpable) – have treated the world’s longest-standing democracy, previously the gold standard for emerging nations everywhere, as their personal inventory, suitable for dispensing as they alone see fit.

The Sopranos would call it a “bust out.” The Mafia does it all the time. Weasel your way into a legitimate business by any means necessary. Order whatever you want, on credit, with no intention of paying the bills. Treat the inventory as personal possessions. Replace the workers with cronies and relatives. It doesn’t matter that the jobs won’t last long; they’ll just move on to the next feeding trough when the time comes.

Over two hundred years of democracy, treated with the care and respect of David Scatino’s sporting goods store. At least Tony Soprano tried to warn David off.

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