I won't take it any more
May your house be safe from termites
 - May your house be safe from termites - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp


When we lived in Queens, New York, our house had termites. We didn't know it at first. We saw the "swarmers" in the spring, but didn't know what they were. Then we had a fire in the house, and much of the structure had to be replaced or rebuilt.

That's when we found the termites and the damage that they had done to the house. When we pulled up the rugs in the living room, they had eaten a lot of the parquet floor (They liked the dark wood best). In the basement, they had eaten much of the framing that held up the walls. We had the house treated by a well-known pest control service, which cost us several thousand dollars, but we felt safe enough to begin the repairs that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Eventually the repairs were completed and we moved back into the house. Several months later, I opened a closet and found a mud tube on one of the walls. The termites were back. All of our work had been for nothing.

It took seven treatments to the house to force the termites to a standstill. There was no way to kill the termites, but you could set up a barrier to keep them from your home.

It's an interesting story, but so what?

I tell this tale because it's a metaphor for the Bush administration.

At first, everything seemed okay. No Child Left Behind, tax cuts (for the wealthy), strong response to 9/11, attack on Afghanistan, the Iraq War and, at the peak, that thing on the aircraft carrier. Things were really rolling, leading to Bush being re-elected, declaring that he now had a "mandate."

And like our house, early signs were ignored. The first person to become president without being elected? No problem. Sneak attack on 9/11? Not his fault, after all, he just became president.

The first bad sign was that the war in Iraq didn't achieve its goal of finding weapons of mass destruction, and the situation was deteriorating rapidly. A hurricane hits New Orleans and all of a sudden our government is unable to respond. Plus the economy isn't doing so hot, with jobs fleeing overseas, unemployment on the rise, and then gasoline going over $3 a gallon.

And then came the scandals. The "scandals" of the Clinton years were all based on some sort of imagined personal failings, but didn't affect the functioning of the government.

The Bush scandals, on the other hand, are all about government. The first real scandal was the revealing of the identity of an undercover CIA agent, who just happened to be working on the tracking of WMDs. This was hushed up at first, but led to the first Bush administration felony conviction. New Orleans was a scandal, where thousands died and, almost two years later, a devastated area still awaits for the government to lend aid.

All along, the stories from Iraq have included major scandals, with failure to provide for the troops both on the battlefield, and afterwards, no-bid contracts to friends and the employer of the vice president, billions of dollars gone missing, and reconstruction contracts executed poorly or not at all.

The latest scandal involves the firing of federal prosecutors for political motives. As more detail about this one come out, we are finally starting to see the termites. Think of congress changing hands as switching to a new group of termite inspectors.

At first, this didn't seem like a big thing. After all, people in the government get fired all the time. So why was there such an effort to cover up what seemed such an innocuous thing? A closer look and, whoops, it's termites. The entire justice department is shot through with people whose main qualification is loyalty to Bush. Part of this effort was aimed at election fraud and election fixing, mainly through efforts to discourage certain groups from voting. Like layers of an onion being peeled back, the scandals are just beginning to be exposed.

But wait, there's more. Federal prosecutors can decide which crimes to ignore and which ones to prosecute. Put a political spin on this and it can have interesting results. Federal judges can make decisions about things that will never see a courtroom. More chance for mischief. Now imagine the entire Justice Department shot through with this sort of infestation, think about what gets affected, and the prospect is pretty scary. Especially when you've always believed that the Justice Department is supposed to protect you and me, not the friends of the administration.

A closer look shows that the Justice department has been staffed by graduates of two theological universities and it makes you wonder about the separation of church and state.

But wait, there's still more. Think of all of those federal agencies, The EPA, the FDA, the USDA, the intelligence services and all of those agencies that safeguard our welfare. Imagine them shot through with the same sort of infestation. During the Red Scare of the fifties, government employees had to sign a loyalty oath to the US government. During the Bush administration, this oath has mutated into an oath of loyalty to George Bush.

Imagine the qualified people who are turned away from government service because their politics aren't in sync with Bush. Imagine the career professionals who have given up in disgust or were forced out for not toeing the party line. And, finally, imagine the sort of inexperienced and unprofessional folks that are found acceptable. In many cases, religious fundamentalism and other extreme views can become the norm. Just ask the folks who work at the Grand Canyon who are no longer allowed to tell people the generally acknowledged age of this site because it disagrees with the bible.

Not quite done yet. Imagine all of the science agencies that can't discuss global warming or stem cells. Think of all of the agencies making budget cuts to help feed the war machine. Think of all of the agencies now being run by the very ex-industry people that the agencies were supposed to protect us from.

And for a final bit of icing on the cake, think of a Republican congress that has supported this thuggery for six years.

Now try to envision what it's going to take to ferret out all of these termites, eradicate them, and rebuild the structure of our government.

Today's question:

1. The president had nothing to do with the firing of the eight attorneys.

2. The attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president so, in theory, he is the only one who can fire them.

Why hasn't my head exploded in trying to follow this logic?
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