Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Deviating from sports?

I'm not sure whether this blog's supposed to discuss sports exclusively, but if it is, as the title suggests, merely a place for disagreement, I submit politics as a topic. Doyle has often (though definitely not always) played the part of Bush apologist, resulting in (and probably for the express purpose of causing) my unabated fury.

So, what about the bill Congress just passed that eliminates habeas corpus for "enemy combatants"?

The facts: Congress just passed a bill, part of which revokes habeas corpus for foreign citizens deemed "enemy combatants." Our country can now, for the second time in its history (the other being the Civil War, when Lincoln suspended habeas corpus but did not eliminate it), legally detain human beings forever without saying why. They can revoke personal freedom at will.

Worse yet, the bill expands the definition of "enemy combatant." The term now means anybody who "has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." It used to mean a person who had engaged in hostilities against the US, but now it pertains to "supporters."

Of course, that raises (not begs!) the question: what constitutes "support"? And at what point will the government officially adopt what until now has been the mostly implicit assumption of the entire neoconservative flag-waving, sticker-sporting movement -- that criticizing the government is supporting terrorism?

At what point will critizing the government get you thrown in jail? I can almost guarantee that Connor will call that a "breathless" or "ridiculous" statement. However, it's about a half-step from being a legal fact in America. Bush could extend the bill to apply to American citizens with an executive order -- it wouldn't even need to go through Congress. The federal government is currently considering charging a man who sold a satellite TV package including the Hezbollah channel with "supporting terrorism." That man, a Pakistani citizen, could now be kept in jail for the rest of his life without charges. Legally. Not in ten years, not in some mythical 1984 world liberals are painting to scare people. Right now, a man could lose his freedom for selling satellite TV in America.

My take, in brief: It's the single most flagrant affront to our country the Bush administration has perpetrated -- worse than the Iraq war, worse than the Patriot Act (though similar in spirit), worse than the incomprehensible deficit, worse than the unprecedented voting irregularities that helped them win two consecutive presidential elections.

It doesn't completely eviscerate the Bill of Rights. Not yet. However, I do think it's only a matter of time until the term "enemy combatant" will be used against Americans. And once you say that you can take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights becomes irrelevant. So does democracy itself.

Bush has consistently given himself and his administration powers the executive branch was never supposed to have under the Constitution. He now has a power no American president has ever had -- indeed, a power greater than that of every British king since the Magna Carta.

Without habeas corpus, the entire Bill of Rights becomes irrelevant. Who cares if you have freedom of speech if the government can legally imprison you for exercising it? If in a year or two, national columnists get thrown in prison for critizing Bush, how many are going to continue to do so?

The entire push to eliminate habeas corpus is probably a result of the many habeas corpus cases brought by GITMO detainees labeled "enemy combatants," including the Rasul v. Rumsfeld case. Essentially, the administration said and believed that it had absolute powers which it didn't. Now it does. And if Rumsfeld was claiming the right to detain any "enemy combatant" -- including US citizens!!! -- that long ago, do you really think this current bill won't soon be expanded to include you and me?

So, tell me again how "ludicrous" it is to call the Bush Administration fascists. They've clearly demonstrated their fascist ideals. I'm going to call them that as long as I can -- which, apparently, won't be long.


Diesel said...

Sorry. In addition to the fact that I've been a Bush "apologist" far less often than you accuse me of (and the term Devil's Advocate is a far more appropriate description of the role I was playing), I probably feel quite a bit stronger than you about the current administration's assault on Civil Liberties. You usually engage in hyperbole when discussing political matters -- and I still submit that "facist" is far too trite to be used in earnest -- you didn't go far enough. The Bill of Rights has been decimated by this administration. Habeus Corpus was just the next logical step. Bush is an enemy of the Constitution, plain and simple.

However, I still fail to see much respite in the Democratic party, which is probably why I will cease voting for anything except ballot initiatives from here on out. And please don't give me the "No one could be worse" line, because I don't believe it's true. Bush is a symptom, not the problem. We've been trending in this direction since FDR's presidency. And, frankly, this is what a lot of the voters seem to want, which is proof positive that most Americans are stupefyingly idiotic. There is no possibility that a pro-freedom, pro-Constitution, anti-invasive and -absuive government candidate can emerge from either party. Maybe degrees exist, but I don't care to find out. If you're going to be put to death, I don't see much point in being able to pick the weapon.

So, what I'm saying is, I'm over politics. At least until the day that a Libertarian candidate can reasonably expect to challenge for office, which will probably never happen.

Anonymous said...

Here is what Leonard Peikoff, Head of Ayn Rand Insitute, had to say on this very issue:

"Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because 'both are bad.'"

The survival of this country will not be determined by the degree to which the government, simply by inertia, imposes taxes, entitlements, controls, etc., although such impositions will be harmful (and all of them and worse will be embraced or pioneered by conservatives, as Bush has shown). What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor."

The most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power, if possible in the House and the Senate. This entails voting consistently Democratic, even if the opponent is a “good” Republican."

In my judgment, anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man’s actual life—which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world."

If you hate the Left so much that you feel more comfortable with the Right, you are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner."

Say whatever you want about Peikoff his point is valid. The situation is that the Neo-cons and Christian Fundamentalists are moving this country further away from the ideas and values that made it the most desired place to reside. While Stephen Colbert would say that this will solve the illegal imigration problem, I agree with Peikoff. There is only one political organization, the Fightin' Dems, that is in a position to change the prevailing political wind in Washington.

St said...

That's an awfully interesting post. Which "anonymous" is this? Doesn't sound like Finley ...

Doyle, we've discussed the Libertarian thing at length, and while originally I was skeptical, I think I've told you that I'd vote for a Libertarian if a viable candidate ever came along.

However, I agree with our anonymous commenter that breaking the neoconservative stranglehold on our political system is of primary importance. The simple fact is that Democrats would never have done something like suspending habeus corpus. The current Democratic leadership is obviously and deeply flawed, but in this case it really is that much better than what's in place. Enough to justify voting for them.

I'm voting party-line Democrat, even for candidates I don't like (Pedersen comes to mind), even against candidates I do (McCain).

Diesel said...

That is an interesting post, but I'm not sure I'm as convinced of Peikoff's point. First, Democrats have responded to the Christian/Fundamentalist push by running to mass during their campaigns, which leads me to believe they're far from a source of refuge from the impending theocracy. Furthermore, it's hard for me to believe that Democrats would never do something like suspend habeus corpus; it's too attractive a political weapon, particularly now that Bush has re-introduced the idea to future presidents. Part of the issue is that we're facing an unprecendented threat in the form of Muslim Fundamentalism, and I'm convinced that our current or potential policy makers are not sophisticated enough to properly assess and deal with the threat. And when people get confused, as Bush and his cohort clearly have, they start swinging wildly. Usually, history has told us that when the country's leadership struggles to solve a complex problem, the "solution" always comes at the expense of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

But this is a sidestep, I realize. I have long considered political inaction to be an abridgement of an American's responsibility, and it was with no small discomfort that I decided -- perhaps tentatively -- to not vote on any of the candidates in this election cycle. Perhaps this is a function of living in Arizona, but I cannot remember in my life a more repugnant lineup of candidates for office in my life. Every single one of them are not only horrible policy makers, but people as well.

But ...

I think I need to think about things. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the morally correct thing to (shiver) vote for Pedersen.

Guess I have a week to figure it out.

St said...

Yeah, everything I know about Pedersen indicates that he's a piece of shit. I do not look forward to voting for him.