Observations on the world today.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Ahh Unity 

Here's an odd bit of synchronicity. Yesterday, Pandagon posted a blog berating Peggy Noonan for writing a commentary which was basically a conservative wish-list presented as an alternate-reality real-world event. Ezra said:
I'm serious. That is her column. She got paid to write the political equivalent of a child's Christmas list. Sorry, let me rephrase: She got paid to write George W. Bush's Christmas list. And here I am writing this blog, groping for original thoughts and trenchant analysis, for nothing. Nada. Am I jealous?

You're damn right I am.
Then today, Mark Noonan (any relationship I wonder?) posted a blog quoting this New Republic article by Easterbrook which was also an alternate-reality presentation of a real-world event. M. Noonan wrote:
and this bit of alternative history shows in microcosm how entirely perverse, insipid and spurious are the complaints about President Bush's actions and policies. Its not that there aren't criticism to make - any action may be criticized - but that the criticisms leveled against the President are entirely worthless, being entirely motivated by jealousy of political opponents who cannot stand the thought of a man they dislike being a success.
So here we have the right defending alternate histories while the left is attacking them. The question is, is there a difference between a right-wing pundit writing a tongue-in-cheek in-your-face alternate history news story, and a left wing commentator writing one? One could argue the difference between satire and bellicosity, but the difference would depend on the side you are looking at it from.

I agree that P. Noonan's piece was a cop-out, but it wasn't over any lines. And Easterbrook's was insipid and delusional, but also within the relm of allowable tastefulness. True, Paul Krugman would never do such a thing, but I wouldn't put it past Maureen Dowd (and I happen to like Maureen Dowd.) Besides, I wonder if they might not have leveled the same criticism on me for this piece, which was one of my earliest posts on this blog.
I had a strange dream last night. I dreamed it was March of 2005 and a new Attorney General to the United States had just been confirmed. I can't really say how I knew that. It was a dream. In dreams, you just know some things. The dream started in the living room of our current Attorney General, John Ashcroft. Again, I just knew that was where I was. I don't know how I knew. I don't know why I knew. I just did. Maybe it was by the life-size cutout of Janet Jackson from the Super Bowl with a drape over her right breast like the one Ashcroft had put over that statue of Blind Justice.

Mr. Ashcroft was reading from the bible -- something about bearing false witness -- when suddenly there was a knock at his door, and when he answered it there were two identical Secret Service agents standing in the entry. "Tony, Mick," Ashcroft said. "What brings you guys here at this late hour?"

"John Ashcroft?" Tony said questioningly yet stern.

"You guys know it's me," Ashcroft said. "We've worked together often this past few years; locking up community college sociology professors and rousting Green party candidates and such."

"John Ashcroft," Mick said, "you are hereby placed under arrest pursuant to the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act."

"Otherwise known as the USA PATRIOT Act," Tony clarified.

"On what charge?" Ashcroft demanded, and Tony held back a chuckle. "Oh, yeah, that's right, I forgot," Ashcroft said. "Well, where are you taking me?"

At that point the dream shifted locals. Tony and Mick were gone, and Ashcroft was alone in a jail cell. Well, actually, it was more like a cage. It had a concrete floor, and all four walls were made of cyclone fencing. The cage itself was sparse. There was nothing inside other than Ashcroft and a pot to piss in, a blanket, a bible and some spilled Cheerios. I realized that some time had passed. At least three months. I also realized (in that omniscient dreamlike way) that Ashcroft had never been told what he was charged with. He also hadn't seen his family or consulted a lawyer or even been told if his family knew where he was.

Then from nowhere a chaplain appeared. "John," the holy man said, "I have something I want you to see." Ashcroft turned and there beside him in the cell was a television set. It was turned on to CNN and a live picture showed the new Attorney General. His name appeared on the screen below his picture. "Adnan Adoum" it said.

"Hey," Ashcroft said. "Isn't that a Lebanese name? How did an Arab ever become Attorney General?"

The chaplain did not dignify the question. Instead he slowly stretched out his arm and pointed to the screen. Sometimes my dreams are a little Dickensian.

Attorney General Adoum cleared his throat and began to speak. "Today marks a momentous day in the history of American justice. Today, we have repealed the USA PATRIOT Act." As flashbulbs popped and applause lilted in the background, Adoum smiled and waited for the crowd to calm, a broad and satisfied smile on his face. "All personal records of America's citizens which were immorally gathered over the past few horrible years have been destroyed. In addition, we have released all suspects illegally held, and officially charged all suspects who warranted prosecution. Well, all but one who we saved for last. Today, pursuant to actual patriotic American legal procedure, we will officially charge former Attorney General John Ashcroft with aiding and abetting terrorism. He will then be moved to a secure but more humane federal facility where he will join the general prison population. At that point, it will be my pleasure to read him his rights, and charge him for his crime. 'John Ashcroft,' I will say, 'I hereby charge you with the crime of dereliction of duty, treason against the United States government, interfering with a lawful investigation and suborning terrorist acts for the December 6, 2001 act of forbidding the Federal Bureau of Investigation from looking at background-check information on suspects detained in connection with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.'"

Ashcroft curled into a ball on the floor of his cell and began to weep, and I woke up. Oddly though, I didn't have the panicky anxious feelings that usually accompany a nightmare. Quite to the contrary, I actually felt energies. But the feeling soon faded.

After all, dreams that good never really do come true.

Okay, I didn't REALLY dream that. So sue me for the artistic license.
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