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Mr. Ashcroft makes “Animal Farm” a reality

I was always under the impression that the Republican party basically stood for the protection of states’ rights, fiscal conservatism and a strong belief in anti-big government. John Ashcroft has of late been challenging this notion.

The first thing that scared me about Ashcroft, besides his decidedly unabashed religious conservatism, was the new Anti-Terrorism Bill. Now, this isn’t his doing, but it is his job to enforce it. One of the enforcements that I find particularly nauseating is the denial of attorney-client privelege for those suspected of terrorism. This, as the ACLU put it, is “chilling” to say the least.

The American Constitution, while being far from perfect, gives us protection from our government. Our judicial system, also not perfect, does work. Railroading defendants only makes us look like the despotic tyrants we are trying to overthrow in Afghanistan.

The second thing I am irritated/frightened about is Ashcroft suddenly deciding to declare our state’s assisted suicide law to be, in fact, illegal. His reasoning, which has a reasoning known only to Mr. Ashcroft, is that it violates federal drug laws. I would like to see this defined coherently.

I am suspicious of a few things here. First of all, his timing is suspect, and I know I am not the first person to notice this. I am in the camp of folks who think he needed to do something that looked like he was working when he failed to find the anthrax culprit or culprits. Usually when you pass the buck for failing at work you get fired, or something.

Ashcroft’s supporters are quick to point out that the nation did not cease its normal activities after Sept. 11, nor should we expect it to have done so. True, but if that is the case, then we can expect our public officials to act rationally (which may be asking too much in Ashcroft’s case) with respect to other non-Sept. 11 related matters.

The actions of the attorney general also raised my well-groomed eyebrows because this particular law is loathed by religious conservatives, like Mr. Bob Jones University himself. Mr. Ashcroft’s credibility as an impartial official is seriously questionable here. His weak reasoning for trying to overturn the law doesn’t help his cause any, either.

I am of the opinion that Mr. Ashcroft and his conservatively religious ilk are still stinging from the president’s surprisingly well-made decision on stem cell research. Now they are looking for a battle they think they can win decisively. Unfortunately, the people of the great state of Oregon do not agree.

What Ashcroft has done is ignore his party’s principle of not interfering in states’ affairs. Traditionally, the Republican party has favored letting the states do what they need to, as long as egregious violations are not being made.

The assisted suicide law has even withstood the test of the Rehnquist Court, arguably one of the more conservative Supreme Courts. Sandra Day O’Connor herself said, and I am paraphrasing, that the Constitution does not provide the right to kill oneself, but it does not say you can’t either. She also said it was up to the states to experiment.

Ashcroft has ignored the delicate system of checks and balance and has imposed what Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn has called “his will” on the Assisted Suicide Law. He is not acting in the interest of the American public. What he is doing is setting a rather dangerous trend.

The activities of the current administration are not doing much to inspire confidence in me. Sure, we flushed the Taliban out of some key cities, and now Afghani women can smile without getting shot, but do they have much to smile about when they’re hungry? I hope we plan to do more than bomb Afghanistan with pop tarts and peanut butter.

The president can talk about his never-ending war on terrorism. I just know who I am not going to vote for after three years of this weird shit. The Bush Administration clearly does not care about the Constitution, though there is a time limit on the Anti Terrorism Bill, thank god. They aren’t reigning in Mr. Ashcroft either, which to me, seems like a tacit approval of his bizarre pseudo-legal maneuvering.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend George Orwell’s “1984.” He originally intended it as a critique of communism, but I think it and his other novel, “Animal Farm,” could be applied to our current situation, if at least making us think critically about our government and what it is doing while we sleep.