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King George 

Crank Call

My "contempt" for readers who don't know history (never mind German) is so acute this week that I am forbidden to discuss it. My editors will allow me a small exception, I hope, if I have a word with Mr. Ken Eardley, "chair of Underhill's Progressive Town Committee," whose letter in last Wednesday's Seven Days presumed that I don't know the difference between the Nazi "Sturmstaffel" and the "Schutzstaffel," or S.S.

I can assure Mr. Eardley that I do know the difference, and that if I'd wanted to say "Schutzstaffel," I would have. Neither did I mention the S.S. at all. Probably I was a being a bit too subtle -- we "contemptuous" folk are like that.

For the record, the "Sturmstaffel" was the elite Nazi air corps, charged with the mission of blowing anything it came across out of its path -- sort of like what's going on right now in Iraq. And when I mentioned George W. Bush and the "Texas Sturmstaffel," I was referring to Bush's "service" in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, and to those legions of his daddy's friends who not only secured him his cushy position during that conflict, but who persist in lying and covering up for Ding-Dong's notorious drinking and carousing while when tens of thousands of other young men were dying in the rice paddies -- again, as they now are in Iraq.

Indeed, a USA Today report this week confirms that "part-time soldiers in the Army National Guard are about one-third more likely to be killed in Iraq than full-time active-duty soldiers serving there," not only because they don't have the training for the job, but because "some of the most dangerous missions, including driving convoys and guarding bases and other facilities, frequently are assigned to Guard and Reserve troops."

The thinking is, I suppose, that "full-time active-duty" troops have just about had it with the whole charade and would rebel outright if asked to put their heads straight on the chopping block. On Tuesday, reacting to the universal uproar over this news, the Army National Guard insisted "it had given USA Today an inaccurate count" of the rate of these deaths, "but still could not provide a precise count." Right.

And frankly, I wouldn't give 10 cents for Vermont's "Progressives," who so far as I can tell have done nothing since Bernie Sanders went to Washington but make the state safe for Republicans and tourists and ban smoking in public places. The Bush administration is currently engaged in rolling back every environmental protection enacted in this country over the last 30 years. They are fouling the air. They are poisoning the waters. They are wrecking the Earth. They are killing the fish. But, for heaven's sake, let's not light up around a barmaid!

There, now I feel a lot better.

Anyhow, I hope you all saw the pictures last week of Little Mussolini dressed up in his latest phony military outfit -- a Mao-ish sort of thing, with a high collar that reached up to his lack of a chin and actually bore the words, stitched above his left breast pocket, "George W. Bush, Commander-in-Chief."

I repeat -- although no one pays the slightest attention to this -- that the President of the United States is commander-in-chief of the armed forces only in time of war; that only Congress can declare war (which Congress has not done); and that the role of commander-in-chief is a civilian one, not a military one. The Framers of the Constitution -- those godless secular humanists! -- knew exactly what they were doing when they made this provision, it being abundantly clear to them that a man with the full power of the Executive behind him could not also be trusted to run the military.

But who pays attention to the Constitution anymore? Certainly not Ding-Dong, who seems to regard the presidency as his personal fiefdom, and who addresses the nation, when they write his speeches for him, as if he were its king, or at least General Franco.

"We don't have the unifying effect of a king or queen," explains Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia (a "red" state, don't you know). "As a result, over the centuries America has developed traditions that encourage stability and public confidence. That's what an inauguration is."

Actually, that's not what an inauguration is. An inauguration is simply the occasion for the elected president to swear he will uphold the U.S. Constitution, which this president never has and never will.

You don't believe me? Just wait till you see the grotesque, garish, money-drenched, troop-ridden, police-ridden, Secret Service-ridden, sniper- and sharp-shooter-ridden, barricade- and road-block-ridden exercise in stupid, swaggering, un-American power scheduled for Washington on January 20. Ordinarily, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court administers the presidential oath of office, but since the repulsive, right-wing Judge Rehnquist is currently suffering from thyroid cancer, it'll probably be the even more repulsive and right-wing Judge Scalia who gets the honor. He recently told an "interfaith" conference in New York City that "the separation of church and state" never made the Jews any safer in Nazi Germany, way back when.

"Our Constitution does not morph," Scalia declared. "As I've often said, I am an originalist, I am a textualist, but I am not a nut."

Well, it depends on what kind of cracker you're using. A "textualist" might be expected actually to read the Constitution and notice that the word "God" doesn't appear in it at any point. But let's not pray for miracles, now that George is king.

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Peter Kurth

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