“Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”

-- Cicero [1]

The Roman masses finally figured out that their highly eccentric Emperor, Caligula, was a raving lunatic when it was revealed that he was having lavish dinner parties in honor of his favorite horse and that he had even considered making it a Consul! Caligula’s reported incestuous relationships with his sisters was bad enough for them to stomach; the “horse thing,” however, became the tipping point. [2] Caligula had to go! He was soon replaced, in a palace-orchestrated coup de’ dictator, by the bookish Claudius. At that time, unfortunately for the batty Caligula, there wasn’t an “impeachment process” or “censure proceedings” in place, to hasten his exit in a peaceful and dignified manner from the then chaotic political scene in the Eternal City. [3]

Recently, President George W. Bush, a/k/a “Bush II,” --a would be “Emperor,” if there ever was one--was forced to own up to the shocking fact that in Oct., 2001, he had covertly ordered the National Security Agency (NSA), to spy on countless U.S. residents. Is Bush, too, losing his mind? Coming on top of his damnable lies that got the U.S. into the Iraqi War, this is another very disturbing bombshell. [4] Bush has been spying on our citizenry without the required court orders and in direct violation of the liberties guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and in other laws of the land. Question: Is Bush’s acting contemptuously, and above the law, in this latest disgusting scandal, going to be a tipping point for the American people? When are they going to stop putting up with his crazed antics? Will this repulsive episode be, like Caligula’s “horse thing?” Well, I sure hope so!

Bush’s decision to spy on U.S. citizens is a breach of the Constitution that goes to the very heart of our democratic system, the “Separation of Powers” doctrine, and to rule of law. When this story broke on Monday, Dec. 19, 2005, a respected federal jurist, the Hon. James Robertson, resigned from a secret court that oversees government snooping in intelligence cases. Robertson said the president's authorizing a domestic spying scheme “tainted” the court’s work. According to the Washington Post, the judicial tribunal Robertson was sitting on is labeled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the “FISA Court” for short. It was set up by the Congress, in 1975, to legally empower sleuths of the federal government to engage in: surveillance, eavesdropping, window peeping, wiretapping, planting of bugging devices, along with the interception of snail-mail, and now of e-mail, on suspects in espionage and terrorism-related matters. The court warrant for surveillance, etc., however, could only be issued by one of the judges on the 11-membered panel, if the Justice Department lawyers could show to the presiding jurist that there was “probable cause” that the party and/or parties under watch were “a foreign government or their agents.” [5]

Bush is now making the highly dubious legal claim that when the U.S. Congress authorized him, after 9/11, to use military force against Al-Qaeda, (AUMF), that it had also by implication granted him the plenary power to initiate warrantless searches, in America, of any and all suspects in supposed terrorism matters, whether those targeted are connected to Al-Qaeda or not. This is a preposterous notion, since the Congress, even if it wanted to, couldn’t lawfully grant the president extraconstitutional powers that it didn’t possess. This is the same President Bush, who also has condoned the torture of detainees in the Iraqi War and thinks and acts like the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Convention are just mere “pieces of paper.” Bush is also claiming that he has the inherent, and absolute, power, as president, to order warrantless searches in national security cases. If that is so, why did Congress enact the FISA law? What do you call a delusional elected official, entrusted by the people with acting as a chief magistrate of a nation, who insists that he has powers greater then the limited ones specifically spelled out in the law? In Rome, during the halcyon days of its Republic, they condemned such a person - “as a dictator,” “a traitor,” and “as an enemy of the people!” [6]

There is more relevant history from the Ancients to ponder in this matter. The Roman Emperor Nero, also a seriously deranged man, was reported to have deliberately torched the city of Rome and played his fiddle while singing the ballad, “The Sack of Troy,” as it burned away. On the advice of palace intriguers (the Neocons of that era), he then scapegoated the Christians for the conflagration. Doesn’t that sound a lot like Bush’s scapegoating Saddam Hussein after that highly suspicious 9/11 tragedy? When the tide of public opinion turned against Nero, instead of hiring a fixer, (like a lobbyist Jack Abramoff or Michael Scanlon), to mount a PR counter offensive on his behalf, he took his own life. Nero’s last words, a la Woody Allen, were: “What a showman the world is losing in me!” [7] Bush isn’t a “showman” or a political leader either. He is a demigod, who is mocked nightly for his foolishness by comedians, like Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien.

Nero and Bush, alas, have still more in common. When the imperial Bush was governor of Texas for six years, he signed death warrants for 152 defendants who had been convicted of capital offenses. Petitions for clemency were regularly forwarded to him on behalf of the condemned. Some of these individuals on death row suffered from mental retardation, others had cases where their lawyers were claimed to be grossly incompetent. Bush said he “reviewed each case seriously.” This is just another one of his big whoppers. [8] Even Nero, when he was first required to sign a death warrant, said, “How I wish I had never learned to write.” [9] This was long before he had lost his mind - completely.

More to the point, Bush has now confessed to the shameful fact that the totally unnecessary Iraqi War, which he chose to launch in March, 2003, has killed “more than 30,000 Iraqis.” It has also taken the lives of 2,156 American military personnel, while wounding 16,000 more. The vast majority of the Iraqi victims were innocent people, many of them women and children. A British-based study by Lancet, says that number of fatalities is closer to 100,000. [10] In any event, Bush’s illegal, immoral and unjust Iraqi war has caused more deadly casualties then the reigns of the despotic Caligula and Nero combined! [7] Bush persists, however, in saying that it was all about bringing “democracy” to Iraq. This is the same kind of irrational thinking demonstrated by the unhinged Nero in wanting to “improve” Rome by first burning it to the ground.

What Bush has brought to occupied Iraq, (thanks, too, to his main partners in merciless mayhem: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz), is not “democracy,” but death, widespread destruction, and unspeakable suffering and human misery. He has also created a bitter hatred for America in the Islamic World which will endure for centuries to come.

In summation, what Bush is now doing to the American people by unlawfully spying on them is clearly an impeachable offense under the U.S. Constitution. We are being ruled by a man who has no respect for our laws, the Courts or our institutions. He is a one-man wrecking crew - a menace to our society and to its revered traditions. He is also the architect of another insidious evil -- Perpetual War! Bush is as whacky in his own flakey ways as were the nutty Caligula and Nero in theirs. Unless “Emperor Bush” is stopped - impeached and jailed - by an awakened people, who have reached their tipping point, he will lead America further into the abyss. It is a place from which our Republic, founded by the gallant patriots of old, may never be able to return. [11]

Notes:

[1]. http://creatingminds.org/quotes/failure.htm

[2]. “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell.

[3]. http://www.unrv.com/early-empire/caligula-mad.php

[4]. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/

[5]. “Spy Court Judge Quits in Protest,” by Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna LInzer, 12/21/05, The Washington Post.

[6]. “Rvbicon: The Last Days of the Roman Republic,” by Tom Holland.

[7]. “The Roman Emperors,” by Michael Grant.

[8]. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17670

[9]. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Nero*.html

[10]. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3962969.stm

[11]. “Encyclopedia of the American Revolution,” by Mark M. Boatner III.