Restoration of Constitutional Rights

 Congress, Constitution, General, Politics, The Courts  Comments Off on Restoration of Constitutional Rights
Jul 172007
 

The following has been faxed to my Senators.

Dear Senators Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson:

The history of the present King … [George] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

Do you recognize these words Senator? These words were penned by Thomas Jefferson around this time of year some two-hundred and thirty years ago. Unfortunately, they ring true today.

You have personally participated in usurpations of the Constitution of the United States and founding principles of this country. You have frequently voted to suspend and/or eliminate the rights for which those brave Patriots gave their lives and fortunes. Your recent votes and the actions of the entire U.S. Government have desecrated the principles for which those people fought and died.

You now have an opportunity to right a wrong. I expect you to vote in favor of S 2022 (prev, S 185). Unlike you, I have faith that our two-hundred year old judicial system is capable of handling difficult and sensitive cases. They certainly have in the past.

I Need to Watch Boston Legal More Often

 Congress, Constitution, Culture, Politics, Television, War  Comments Off on I Need to Watch Boston Legal More Often
May 142007
 

The few time’s I’ve watched Boston Legal, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, but for some reason it’s never made my “must watch” list. After seeing this, I think I have to set the Tivo to record it. What a great statement.

And , Always, Always…Wrong

 Constitution, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on And , Always, Always…Wrong
Oct 192006
 

Keith Olbermann, on his MSNBC show, has often offered some very insightful special comments at the end of his broadcast. Yesterday’s was especially poignant, so I wanted to share the transcript with you.

And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of Habeas Corpus.

We have lived as if in a trance. We have lived… as people in fear. And now – our rights and our freedoms in peril – we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the inheritors of our American legacy. For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before – and we have been here before led here – by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives – only to watch him use those Acts to jail newspaper editors. American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote, about America.

We have been here, when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives – only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war. American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said, about America.

And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9-0-6-6 was necessary to save American lives – only to watch him use that Order to imprison and pauperize 110-thousand Americans…

While his man-in-charge…General DeWitt, told Congress: “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen – he is still a Japanese.” American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did – but for the choices they or their ancestors had made, about coming to America.

Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. And each, was a betrayal of that for which the President who advocated them, claimed to be fighting.

Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased. Many of the very people Wilson silenced, survived him, and…one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900-thousand votes… though his Presidential campaign was conducted entirely… from his jail cell.

And Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States, to the citizens of the United States, whose lives it ruined.

The most vital… the most urgent… the most inescapable of reasons.

In times of fright, we have been only human. We have let Roosevelt’s “fear of fear itself” overtake us. We have listened to the little voice inside that has said “the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass.” We have accepted, that the only way to stop the terrorists, is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists. Continue reading »

The Day America Died

 Congress, Constitution, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on The Day America Died
Oct 182006
 

Note to self…October 17, 2006…the day the United States Government nullified the Constitution, and Americans did nothing.

135 years to the day after the last American President (Ulysses S. Grant) suspended habeas corpus, President Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006. At its worst, the legislation allows President Bush or Donald Rumsfeld to declare anyone – US citizen or not – an enemy combatant, lock them up and throw away the key without a chance to prove their innocence in a court of law. In other words, every thing the Founding Fathers fought the British empire to free themselves of was reversed and nullified with the stroke of a pen, all under the guise of the War on Terror.

Georgetown University Law Professor Johnathon Turley said this:

“People have no idea how significant this is. Really a time of shame this is for the American system.-The strange thing is that we have become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars. It’s otherworldly..People clearly don’t realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I’m not too sure we’re gonna change back anytime soon.”

Unfortunately, it is a scary time in which we live, but not because of terrorism…we should be in fear of our government.

The Keys To The Kingdom

 Congress, Constitution, Politics, Presidency, The Courts, War  Comments Off on The Keys To The Kingdom
Oct 032006
 

I wrote a long article yesterday about the detainee law, passed by our Republican Senators (except for Chafee of Rhode Island) and Republican Congress people and by 12 Democrats.

These…. people… crazy people… very, very scared people?… voted to dump the Magna Carta protections of being able to confront your accuser, and said it’s okay to lock up “suspected terrorists” FOR LIFE without trial or anyway of protestng their innocence, you know sort of like in The Man in the Iron Mask.

I mean, they’re SUSPECTED, we don’t know they were picked up and identified correctly. We’ve already heard about the innocent Canadian man, picked up at an airport, sent off to Syria where he was tortured, and then years later was returned to Canada, without so much as a “thank you for your time, sorry to have bothered you.”

Read this blog by H. Constance Gorman, a lawyer who is donating her time to represent a detainee at Guantanamo.

She has been representing a man “swept up” in Afghanistan and falsely accused by “bounty hunters” who were paid by the US for pointing out terrorists — now that’s an idea that has no chance of getting false i.d.’s, doesn’t it? Pay informants in a scary country, for sure there won’t be any mistakes made, will there?

And this man has been in Guantanamo for 5 years. His daughter was 6 months when he was taken. And of course he’s just been there, uncharged, left to rot. And he’s ill as well.

So to people like this, the Congress has said to President Bush: yes, you have our permission, go do more of this.

Don’t worry if you make some errors. We prefer that innocent people be locked up for life with no recourse, as long as we can feel safe. And so we can tell the scared people in America – we are protecting you! Because that’s the kind of America we love! Safety first, to hell with laws, they’re inconvenient, they’re for mushy liberals who don’t know the value of shock and awe. Who cares if innocent people are harmed? Not us! Not John McCain or Lindsay Graham or John Warner, our maverick moderate Republicans. They turn out to be Mickey Mouse mavericks.

AND the Congress and the Mickey Mouse mavericks have allowed the Cheney-inspired rewriting of the term “enemy combatatant” so it has been broadened beyond people “found on the battlefield,” and it now includes people who “aid and abet” the terrorists… and this open-to-interpretation phrase could probably be applied to American citizens — it doesn’t preclude that — and it is all to be determined SOLELY by President Bush. That makes me feel safe!

Not only is Bush infallible like the Popes used to be, but he is so stable. Do you notice how frayed and angry he is all the time, repeating his few sentences about why we must stay fighting in Iraq until the cows come home, or even if only Laura and the dog are the only ones who agree with him?

Such resolute sticking to his beliefs! No matter what else anyone else thinks, he will continue saying “I am right, I am right, I am right.” Whew!

Thank you, everyone who voted for him. Twice. Thank you, to those in Ohio who helped steal that particular state for Mr. Bush in the last election. Kisses to you, Mr. Blackwell, in particular. (Kenneth Blackwell was the blatantly unfair Secretary of State in Ohio at the time, and like Katherine Harris was also the head of the Bush re-election campaign. No conflict of interest there. And like Ms. Harris, impeccable in his fairness to the sanctity of the vote.)

But back to the detainee bill — who might these more broadly defined “aiders” to the enemy be?

Well, Senator Patrick Leahy in his speech on the Senate floor, speaking against the passing of this bill, gave as an example someone who maybe gave to lots of charities, and gave unknowingly to one that happened to funnel money to, say, Hamas….well, with the wording of this law, Mr. Bush could lock that person up and keep them from seeing a lawyer and just never hold a trial or even accuse them. Forever. I’m told Senator Graham said that sort of thing wouldn’t happen… but is it wise to ever put that in a law, so it’s possible?

(This broadening of the definiton of “enemy combatant” happened AFTER the compromise bill was agreed on, the rewriting came from Cheney’s office the weekend before the vote, and I’m sure Graham-McCain-Warner wanted to be good Republicans and not upset the “united Republican front” so as to hurt the election. So they capitulated. They did stop Bush from literally rewriting the Geneva Conventions. And they got any accused the right to see classified information against them … though edited, who can say how much. But they didn’t fight hard enough,they caved in without fixing this bad bill; and the President is still given ENORMOUS, crushing power by the bill. But who cares as long as we all feel “safe”? Who cares as long as it’s not us who is arrested falsely?)

Who else could be accused by Mr. Bush of “aiding and abetting” and be locked away for good without a trial? Maybe editorial writers who criticize the war? Huffington Post bloggers? Maybe… instead of paying bounty hunters for tips, neighbors could be encouraged to anonymously accuse other neighbors of aiding and abetting.

With the detainee law, the Republican Senators and Congressmen (with the help of 12 Democrats) basically said to Bush, “Here are the tools to be a dictator, go forth and …have fun with it.” It is the worst legislation ever passed in my lifetime, and I am in my late 40s.

Here is another explanation of the dangers of this bill in a cogent post by Aziz Hug on “junking checks and balances.”

As has been said before, facism does not arrive in long black coats and jackboots, but quietly it sneaks in during the night.

This detainee bill is really bad. No President, and especially not President Bush, should be given such power. To lock people up without any recourse, for as long as the War on Terror lasts, which could be forever. Are they kidding? How could they pass such a law?

Our Republican Hamlet, Senator Arlen Specter, bravely put forth an amendment that would have reinstated the Magna Carta habeaus corpus protections of being guaranteed a court hearing to proclaim one’s innocence and know what one was accused of. But it lost – 48 to 51. Then Mr. Specter, after saying the lack of such protection set the rule of law back 900 years, went ahead and voted for the whole bill anyway. Why?

I don’t understand Republicans. Even the moderates who stand up to Bush for a few moments ultimately cave in to this dangerous adminstration, and to the fear-based atmosphere that has overtaken our country. I truly fear for the soul of this country.

Call or write your representatives and demand better.

Waiting For The Black Helicopters

 Congress, Constitution, Politics, Presidency, The Courts  Comments Off on Waiting For The Black Helicopters
Sep 302006
 

Since I’ve been blogging about the abuses, lies and failures of the Bush administration, a former co-worker and good friend used joke with me to, “watch my back,” and that I could expect to find black helicopters hoovering over my house any day now. Others have given me advice, “These people are capable of anything. Stay off small planes, make sure you aren’t being followed.”

I always laughed and shook my head whenever I heard this stuff. Extreme paranoia wrapped in the tinfoil of conspiracy, I thought. This is still America, and these Bush fools will soon pass into history, I thought. I am a citizen, and the First Amendment hasn’t yet been red-lined, I thought.

Matters are different now.

It seems, perhaps, that the people who warned me were not so paranoid. It seems, perhaps, that I was not paranoid enough. Legislation passed by the Republican House and Senate, legislation now marching up to the Republican White House for signature, has shattered a number of bedrock legal protections for suspects, prisoners, and pretty much anyone else George W. Bush deems to be an enemy.

So much of this legislation is wretched on the surface. Habeas corpus has been suspended for detainees suspected of terrorism or of aiding terrorism, so the Magna Carta-era rule that a person can face his accusers is now gone. Once a suspect has been thrown into prison, he does not have the right to a trial by his peers. Suspects cannot even stand in representation of themselves, another ancient protection, but must accept a military lawyer as their defender.

Illegally-obtained evidence can be used against suspects, whether that illegal evidence was gathered abroad or right here at home. To my way of thinking, this pretty much eradicates our security in persons, houses, papers, and effects, as stated in the Fourth Amendment, against illegal searches and seizures.

“Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable – already a contradiction in terms – and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.”      Continue reading »