Sunday, July 30, 2006

Are You Being Servile?

I don’t like to talk about politics much because my views don’t align neatly with any specific party. I’m a kind of Conservative-Libertarian-Democrat-Lite. In real life, this translates to things like:
  1. Uphold the Constitution.

  2. No, really. UPHOLD the Constitution.

  3. Religion is great. Shut-up about it already and leave me alone — and I’ll do the same for you.

  4. Taxes suck, but decent roads are useful; polluting the environment is vile; and starving people on the doorstep do not make for a pleasant environment. So, shut up already and pay your taxes — and I’ll do the same.

  5. Health insurance (or lack thereof) is a nightmare that is killing the economy. Fix it.
If I had to choose just one thing from my list, I would choose the first, because, silly me, I drank the kool-aid all those years ago in American National Government. I learned to believe, truly, that the Constitution is the cornerstone of freedom. Oh yeah; and I learned to believe that freedom is worth fighting for.

Have I managed to amaze you yet, by channeling both Ann Coulter and Hilary Clinton in the same paragraph? :-)

The thing is, I’m disappointed about so many things to do with politics that it would be a blessed relief to be able to identify with anyone at this point. I don’t think it’s going to happen because politicians (and their supporters) seem to spend all their time arguing over the stupidest things and ignoring the important ones — like freedom.

Freedom used to get a lot of accolades from Americans, but it sure doesn’t now. Oh, it gets lip service, but that’s about it. In practice, “security” trumps freedom (not to mention the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), and our future seems destined for the sort of tyranny that would have been unimaginable back in the days of my American National Government class.

Don’t scoff. Instead, ask yourself:

What Is Tyranny?

TYRANNY IS THE NAME that must be applied without distinction to any government in which he who is charged with the execution of the laws may make, destroy, break, interpret, hinder, and suspend them, or even only evade them with assurance of impunity. And … the lawbreaker, whether he be hereditary or elective, usurper or legitimate, good or bad, one or many, who has sufficient force to do this is a tyrant; every society which accepts him is a tyranny; every nation which endures him is servile.[1]

I’ll bet you’re scoffing. If you are, however, you might want to pause to consider why President Bush has acted repeatedly to subvert the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Rule of Law.

For example, a federal judge has rejected government arguments and is allowing a lawsuit challenging the legality of the NSA “terrorist surveillance program” in which secret surveillance, without judicial warrants, was conducted on Americans suspected of having ties to terrorists. In addition, more than 20 cases have been filed in relation to telephone companies’ roles in the NSA program.

Obviously, the people filing these lawsuits (and allowing them to proceed) are very much concerned by America’s slide toward tyranny.

And what was the response from our leaders? According to Paper Chase:

The government requested that the cases be consolidated into one civil action in the US District Court for the District of Columbia … so it could invoke the state secrets privilege and seek to have the cases dismissed.

That’s right. Let’s “invoke the state secrets privilege” and violate the 4th Amendment with impunity. Better yet, let’s just throw the whole damn Constitution out the window — as outlined in the draft of the new anti-terrorism legislation President Bush plans to introduce. According to the AP report, the bill is intended to authorize military tribunals for suspected terrorists since Bush’s previous incarnation of these tribunals was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last month. It:

…would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing ''speedy trials'' and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony.

SO, the president’s response to the Supreme Court ruling that his tribunals are unconstitutional is to try to get this unconstitutional crap enshrined into LAW?

Right.

This is a tyrannical power-play that should be denounced. The servile will not, but the rest of us have the responsibility to stand up and fight to preserve the freedoms we hold dear, in spite of the injustice of the fact that if we succeed, the servile fools will benefit along with the rest of us.

Contact your legislators. Write letters to the editor. Blog it. But DO something.

"Live free or die."
- General John Stark

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1 Vittorio Alfieri, Of Tyranny, trans. Julius A. Molinaro, & Beatrice Corrigan; p. 11 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961).

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