Friday, January 27, 2006

The importance of law

It's Friday night, I've been drinking, and I feel contemplative. It's time for some discourse.

The one thing that has always held America together is the rule of law. Sometimes the laws seem unjust. Sometimes they are unfair. Sometimes they make us feel that our rights are being violated. But the one thing that has always gone on is that Congress has passed laws, and the President signs them into law.

This is not America under President Bush. Law, to him, is an executive order which overrides anything else. Law is what he says it is. If Congress passes a law he doesn't agree with, he'll sign it and then say he doesn't have to obey it. This President believes he is above any control.

It may not be apparent to those blinded by party loyalty, who sit there and look at how to best advance their party agenda instead of how to advance the agenda of all Americans, but this is an incredibly troublesome situation. The media, in their fervor to not be called liberal, have slanted right, where you have a Chris Matthews comparing Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden, where Fox News "anchors" spout opinions that belong on, so much so that they parrot talking points spat out by the ruling party, much in the way that the state-controlled press in the Mideast does.

In every other previous wartime situation, Congress has at least passed the laws that have put restrictions on Americans. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the restrictions on habeas corpus (which Lincoln did by executive order, struck down by the USSC, and then passed by Congress) during the Civil War, the Sedition Act of 1917, and other wartime measures all had the backing of Congress by vote.

This is different. The President ducked Congress, he simply told certain members, he would not give permission for debate and votes to be held on the issue, and whether he wants to call it "terrorist surveillance" or not, it was spying on Americans. One end of the calls took place in America. Millions of calls were intercepted by NSA, piling up on the FBI, who found not one lead in that whole mountain of intercepts that violated our rights. See, who defines a terrorist? Why, it's the President and the Executive Branch who makes that determination in Bush's America. So, anyone that the President deems a terrorist, whether it be an American who converted to radical Islam, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, John Kerry, they can all be subject to having their rights violated just because Bush says so. Is that a democracy or a dictatorship?

So, what does one do? Well, they can sue, just as the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights did last week, but those cases are decided by the Supreme Court. Funny how the President happens to name an architect of executive dominance, Samuel Alito, as his Supreme Court nominee just as this case is breaking. Alito would be a crucial yes vote to any challenge to these violations of law, and being so young, would stay on the Court for awhile. Kennedy becomes the swing vote, then, and he is more conservative than O'Connor. The big unanswered question is what view he'd take of executive power.

The point I'm trying to get at in my roundabout way is that what the President is doing threatens the very system that has upheld our nation since 1787. We need that rule of law to keep us America. The President has, in his misguided and shortsighted way, played right into the hands of the big picture strategy that any decently smart terrorist would want.

By violating our rights and sidestepping Congress and any oversight, determining that he alone decides what the law means and whether he has to obey it or not, the President of the United States has finished what the terrorists set out to do: destroy our nation as we know it. We have our civil rights violated, we have our privacy shot to hell, we have American citizens imprisioned without any trial, we have our brightest and best dying in a war that distracts us from the real war we should be fighting, our political system has degenerated into a name-calling contest, where any dissenter is called "traitor" and where one-party rule is the name of the game, and the mastermind of it all runs around the mountains pulling strings, instead of looking up at dirt.

Congratulations, sir. Thanks for ruining the nation that allowed someone like you to thrive in the first place.


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