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Gwen's Spot

29 September 2006

Can We Move To Canada Now?: In Which Gwen Decides That...

...her friends who said they'd move to Canada if they could after the last election results came through were just unusually fore-sighted. really covers it, for me.
I don't understand how denying due process to people accused in United States courts of United States crimes, denying habeas corpus rights, accepting hearsay evidence in court, giving the President alone the ability to decide which interrogation methods are unconstitutional, keeping defendants from protesting in court about violations of the Geneva Conventions (because, you know, "accused terrorists" are only being incarcerated, according to defenders of "screw fair and speedy trial", to keep them from continuing acts of terrorism; so either we're at war against terrorists and so accused terrorists are prisoners of war, or we're at police action with criminals so they fall under our court system and our Constitution--can't have it both ways!), only protecting against rape and biological experimentation as cut-and-dried inhuman, degrading, cruel treatment (meaning everything else is on the table), and keeping secret prisoners in secret prisons because they're accused with secret evidence* of secret crimes--is in any way an "American" thing to do.
I don't understand how John McCain can check out of the Hanoi Hilton one decade and then support a torture bill in a later one.
I don't understand how "accused terrorist" means "definitely a terrorist," how indefinite waits for trial make any sense at all, how keeping gay people out of the under-funded, under-equipped, under-peopled military isn't necessary for this war but "you can take your Bill of Rights and shove 'em" is.
I don't understand how our government engaging in terrorist tactics is preventing the terrorists from achieving their goals**.
I don't understand how "you're either with us or you're with the enemy" applies to constitutional preventions of government abuse***, and "the enemy" is on the side of the Constitution.
I don't understand how impeaching the person who swore to uphold and defend the Constitution could possibly be more damaging than leaving him in office for two more years to do whatever he wants with it.
I don't understand how a democracy, in which the people supposedly are in charge, is thought to function better when there is less supervision, more secrecy.
I don't understand how we had no problem giving mob bosses, terrorists if there ever were any, due process like crazy and yet we can't do the same for Iraqi tomato farmers without extensive, effective terrorist networks****.
I don't understand how the same branch of government that defines crimes, arrests people for allegedly committing those crimes, incarcerates them indefinitely, interrogates them using God-knows-what methods, tries them (eventually)*****, and then punishes them is allowed to get away with it by the other branches of government; I don't understand how the Constitution allows one branch to have such powers and I don't understand why I have not heard the phrase "checks and balances" outside of my eighth-grade civics class.
I don't understand why no Republican has the moral convictions to savage this bill like it deserves, filibuster, pull strings, whatever it takes to keep us from turning into the Soviet Union. Shouldn't the party of Lincoln stand up for morality above party politics?
I don't understand why no Democrat has those moral convictions, or party self-interest (the Constitution with the Eighth Amendment and a very cautious Article I also has a Twenty-Second Amendment; who says that Bush is out of office in two years? Isn't he the only one we can count on to give us the strong leadership we need in this time of war******? We can't afford to push him out of office on the strength of something so silly as the Constitution; then the terrorists would win!), or--or--even just reflexive Republican-hating, I don't care, someone needs to stop this. Right now. Before the litany's beginning changes to "They came for the terrorists' rights, and I didn't protest, because I was not a terrorist...".
I think I'm going to be sick.
"...and liberty and justice for all."

* At least under this bill the defendant can see all the evidence the jury can. I know that after rotting away in a cell in Cuba for six (eight, ten, twenty) years, I'd sure want to see what evidence they'd managed to come up with during my pre-trial sentence.
Other people, on the other hand, argue that secret evidence is necessary, so that we don't give the terrorists valuable intelligence information. When they say "terrorists" I must assume that they are talking about the actual defendants rather than outside terrorists, because trials are secret. Unless--unless the terrorists have infiltrated the trials, too! Then they'll see that evidence! So better yet would be if the prosecution simply informed the jury that we have enough evidence to convict if we actually showed you the evidence, which we won't because we don't trust you either.
Or perhaps they really are referring to the defendants, in which case I wonder why they're so worried that the evidence will be so little that the defendant will either be aquitted of the charges or get off in a short enough time that the intelligence information will still be worthwhile, and will therefore spill it to all of his/her evil terrorist friends. (Because people who are aquitted might still be guilty. Like Clinton. It's a lot easier for some people to believe than that some people who are convicted--or even just arrested--might be innocent.)
** Right, the terrorists' goals vary from group to group; wanting to get one's family in power in Saudi Arabia obviously isn't directly related to the erosion of government preventions in the United States. Unless, of course, the government manages to create such a state of fear in its citizens about the magical powers of the terrorist bogeymen (they'll snatch you out of bed in the middle of the night! they eat small children who don't listen to their parents!) that the citizenry will call for giving in to the terrorists' demands rather than have another plane fly into people-packed buildings. Because that's the worst they can manage.
Then again, the administration seems quite sure that the goal of the terrorists is whatever the administration wants people not to do--to destabilize the economy, for instance. So perhaps terrorists want us to keep our Constitution intact?
*** Yes, I said it. Constiutional protections of government abuse, because guess what, the founders were understandably worried about the government having power first, and then the people having (suspendable) liberties and rights. They knew that absolute power corrupts absolutely; Parliament had no problem doing whatever it could to the colonies to recoup money lost defending it, or making sure that the colonies were firmly under a rule Britannia instead of governing themselves, especially since none of the British subjects in the colonies had an actual representative in Parliament. So the Constitution very clearly lists the powers of each branch of government, and then declared all other rights and powers to the people or to the states, and then explicitly listed "including, but not limited to" rights of the people from government interference so that there would be no misunderstanding. Just because the "interstate commerce" clause has been bent unrecognizably out of shape to give Congress more power doesn't mean that the government really has more power than the Constitution says it does. The rights of the people don't come from being United States citizens; they're inherent and all the Bill of Rights does is make sure that the government doesn't nose into them. Or shred them.
**** Remember, class, "alleged terrorists" aren't all terrorists. They can just as easily be the enemies of people desperate to say anything under "harsh interrogation", or in the wrong place at the wrong time, or political demonstrators. Because it's again the executive branch who decides whom to arrest. And whom to charge, eventually. And when to charge, eventually, which is to say "when we have enough evidence" (because it's important to arrest without evidence), which is to say "never, or under the next president."
***** See last sentence of above footnote.
****** The War on Terror has never officially been declared. (By Congress, who is all who can according to that old-fashioned document that founded our nation.) But I consider this bill, if it passes, to be Congress's official declaration of the War on the Constitution. Because the Constitution is more dangerous, even, than marijuana, as hard as that may to believe, because it helps the terrorists win. Plus there's that pesky Fourteenth Amendment, the original non-discrimination clause, which also incidentally makes it so that illegal immigrants who come here, stay, contribute to the economy, use social services much less, and then have kids--the children are actually considered, gasp, native-born citizens! Imagine that, people who live in the United States all their lives and attend United States schools and speak English and follow United States laws are allowed automatic citizenship by that silly slave-freeing loophole.
Much better just to toss the Constitution and start in on a new one. Maybe we can just get rid of the judicial branch entirely this time, so that the executive branch can arrest, hold, and try without supervision for all crimes instead of just this one! Then we wouldn't have activist judges legislating from the bench by interpreting the Constitution, or whatever we decide to call the new one, to actually limit governmental powers and protect people's rights. Which is just silly. Everyone knows the Constitution is just a document that you propose flag-burning and anti-same-sex-marriage amendments for in order to prove that you're a supporter of family values! (Family values like making sure that every same-sex couple that is not celibate has to have sex outside of marriage; family values like making sure that kids grow up without married parents; family values like denying insurance, tax-filing, wrongful-death suing rights to people who have been married in the eyes of God--that is, in a church by a pastor or priest--for decades. Family values like making people who were legally married ex post facto never married, involuntary annullment without waiting for divorce, and who cares about "what God hath joined together, let no man tear asunder"?)

05 September 2006

Wow: Just Wow

Two wows:
one for the people who think that poverty is always a choice and that the people in it are just lazy and stupid
from Whatever:
and one for the people who think that agents of the United States government don't have to worry about due process when they're keeping United States citizens from returning to where they live without a court order or any criminal or civil charges whatsoever
from the San Francisco Chronicle:

I thought that the move-to-Canada crowd was full of paranoid conspiracy theorists. Bush was sworn to defend the Constitution, wasn't he? But...warrantless wiretapping (when there's a rubber-stamp court set up to grant warrants after the tapping anyway)? No, you don't have the right to a trial or charges or a lawyer or a court order before we can decide to keep you from freely travelling in your home country, the only country you're a citizen of? No, arresting someone for re-publishing Hezbollah television material based entirely on content makes perfect sense in First Amendment context? If you'd predicted this in '04, or especially '00, I'd've said, write a book, and call it the sequel to 1984, 'cause it ain't gonna happen.

But we're trading liberties and rights in for better security, right? Right? We're safer, at least from bodily harm, than we were before?
Looks like Ben Franklin/Thomas Jefferson was right when he said that those who would trade in an essential liberty for safety deserve neither...except substitute "get" for "deserve." Look how much safer we are(n't)!

Burning a flag is such a horrible act, regardless of the actual symbolism the person burning uses, that an amendment to keep people from doing so is more important than the actual freedom (of speech, for one) it symbolizes. So by a similar vein, I expect that the administration will have to literally burn up or tear up the actual Constitution, instead of just metaphorically, before there will truly be outrage.