Pharyngula

Just read Leiter.

So the record had been mixed, even before Bush & his bestiary of madmen, but describing the U.S. as a nominally democratic society seemed to make some sense.  Yet even that status officially ended last week.  The legislation known as "the Military Commissions Act of 2006" (usefully described by Professor Balkin here)–approved by what might be called, euphemistically, "the supine Congress" and which is sure to be signed by the alleged President (on orders from the actual President, Dick Cheney)–is the stuff of totalitarian societies, pure and simple.  (As Stephen Griffin (Law, Tulane) observes, the law should really be called the "Military Dictatorship Act," because that is what it actually is, all the bullshit to one side.  Or as philosopher Matt Burstein wrote to me:  "these fuckers read Kafka and Orwell as a god-damned manual, not as a critique!")

The full fascist impact of this legislation won’t be felt immediately, of course, but its contours are so clear as to admit of no whitewashing:  the Dear Leader, i.e., the executive, now has the right to disappear anyone, without having to answer to any other branch of government, except, perhaps, officials who serve at the pleasure of the executive.  Hitler and Stalin and Mao had versions of this power; so, too, now does George W. Bush.  If there is a pertinent difference, it is that the public culture in the U.S., at least currently, is still mildly resistant to capacious exercise of this power, at least against the proverbial "white folks" and other right-thinking and right-looking Americans.

OK, read Ivins, too.

In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words ?outside the United States,? which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has ?has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.? Quick, define ?purposefully and materially.? One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

The bill simply removes a suspect?s right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

I haven’t talked about this at home, but somehow the implications are even sinking into the consciousness of sixteen year old girls (a smart 16yog, but still…).

So where are the Democrats leading the charge? Will this be a subject of discussion at YearlyKos, and can we howl at any Democrats who show up? Who else will be joining me at the protest lines at the Fascist National Convention in Minneapolis next September? How can we light a fire under the craven Democrats?


What the heck…now you can even get arrested for publicly disagreeing with Dick Cheney?

Forget civility and decorum. It’s time to impeach these slimemeisters.

Comments

  1. #1 pwe
    October 4, 2006

    Thanks for the welcome :-) But I’m really just a tourist passing through.

  2. #2 coturnix
    October 4, 2006

    …and people thought I was doing hyperbole when I wrote that last week.

  3. #3 Hairhead
    October 4, 2006

    I have been saying to all of my American friends and internet correspondents (I am Canadian), that you have been an unofficial dictatorship for some time. This simply makes it official.

    The transition really began during Reagan’s time with the repeal of the “Fairness Doctrine” (how appropriate, how public, how fucking OBVIOUS!), and acclerated during Clinton’s rule with the Media Consolidation Act, the writing was most clearly on the wall when Bush II created his Orwellian “Free Speech Zones”. The clear meaning of a declared “Free Speech Zone” is that THERE IS NO FREE ZONE OUTSIDE THAT ZONE!

    I howled (metaphorically) to all of my internet friends, asking how was this enacted, how was this tolerated EVEN ONCE! Nobody answered me or seemed too upset over it. But I saw it (institutional, legislated fascism) right then, and I’ve been repeating it ever since, Cassandra-like.

    I’m not even an American, and I’m literally physically sick about this.

    So how the hell do you people feel? It’s YOUR country, after all!

  4. #4 Rocky
    October 4, 2006

    ……..and someone said I was over-reacting when I compaired the current administration to “American Taliban”.
    Hold on to your asses people……………

  5. #5 Steve_C
    October 4, 2006

    We are so fucked if democrats don’t get more control of congress.

    I suspect it won’t be finally passed until after the election.

    Am I naive to think that the Supreme Court, even in its conservative bent, will overturn this?

  6. #6 Kristine
    October 4, 2006

    8 words that can now get you arrested (for either “harassment” or “assault”) in this country when said to the Vice President:

    “I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.”

  7. #7 JoeB
    October 4, 2006

    I think it is naive to believe so, Steve_C. I’m seriously considering emigrating, pending the results of the November elections.

  8. #8 Steve_C
    October 4, 2006

    Who’s a bigger fascist? Bush or Cheney?

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5039230,00.html

    According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, “I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible,” or words to that effect, then walked on.

    Ten minutes later, according to Howards’ lawsuit, he and his son were walking back through the same area, when they were approached by Secret Service agent Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr., who asked Howards if he had “assaulted” the vice president. Howards denied doing so, but was nonetheless placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.

    Criticism is harrassment. Cheney can’t accept any criticism. Disgusting asshole.

  9. #9 Steve_C
    October 4, 2006

    Wow Kristine. You’re quicker on the draw than me. You read TPM too?

    I need to learn how to post a link like that.

  10. #10 Mixter
    October 4, 2006

    SO with you in Minneapolis!

    AND, my 16-year-old gets it as well. Of course, she’s my 16-year-old, so that doesn’t surprise me all that much… :)

    I’ve been using the “F-word” since 2004, and it’s something I would rather not have been correct about.

    Mixter

  11. #11 Scientiae
    October 4, 2006

    Fascism is understating the case, actually. We’ve been fascist for some time- it’s generally defined as the merging of government and corporate interests- and that mark is so obvious there’s no point in belaboring it. What this legislation pushes us into is very firmly authoritarian- with only a vague pretension of democracy- and heading toward totalitarian/junta territory.

    People tend to think comparisons of Bush to Hitler are hyperbolic- but read your history, guys. The Boy Emperor is terrifying. And one of the (many) proposed constitutional amendments on the table this session is an explicit abolition of any term limit for the President.

    Dictatorship is not that far-fetched a possibility here.

    We’ve got to get off our asses this November and remove from office the bent-over yes-men making all this wholesome all-Amurican wonderfulness possible.

  12. #12 oldhippie
    October 4, 2006

    While most democrats opposed this measure, You would think they would go further and exploit it. “The freedom party”
    “Republicans support detenion without trial, even for Americans. We believe everyone has a right to justice and a fair trial” Well I am no slogan writer, but surely there is something out there…

  13. #13 Warren
    October 4, 2006

    Yeah, my own take on it was that the terrorists have actually won.

    The reason I’ve been calling Bush Il Duce is the clear fascist bent he’s got. He’s no Hitler, but I think he’s at least on par with Mussolini.

  14. #14 mcmillan
    October 4, 2006

    And one of the (many) proposed constitutional amendments on the table this session is an explicit abolition of any term limit for the President.

    I know there’s a lot of amendments proposed and most go nowhere, but that’s still very creepy to hear. Do you have any more information about that?

  15. #15 Orac
    October 4, 2006

    Actually, after spouting off about this act earlier this week, I finally actually read all of it. Now I don’t get how this act can apply to anybody, as PZ claims. It explicitly says in 948c:

    “Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission under this chapter.” (Emphasis mine)

    So, for a person to fall under this law, he or she has to be both an alien and an unlawful enemy combatant. Now that I’ve read the whole thing, I’m pretty sure that the law doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens.

    Even so, it’s still quite a disturbing piece of legislation, as it strips legal residents of the U.S., even ones on the track for citizenship, of so many due process rights, including habeus corpus. It’s also disturbing, if only for the this reason alone: It essentially gives the President the right to interpret what the Geneva Convention.

    Essentially, noncitizens now have little or no due process rights. Now, I don’t necessarily expect that noncitizens who aren’t legal residents of the U.S. should be granted the entire panoply of rights that citizens have, but at the very least they should have the right to habeus corpus and the right not to be coerced or tortured.

  16. #16 Hairhead
    October 4, 2006

    Maybe I’ll preview my comments this time and avoid typos.

    I’ve been corresponding with a lawyer in New York, flaming liberal. Every time that I said the U.S. is on the way to an official fascist state, the lawyer would become angry and abusive. When I mentioned recently (before the Torture and Haebeus Corpus and Wiretapping Bill) that I wouldn’t put it past the present admin. bastards to suspend elections if they didn’t like the result, the lawyer became even more abusive, calling me names (conspiracy nut), saying it could never happen, yada yada yada.

    I think the possibility of suspended elections (if the groundswell is so great that a stolen election would clearly be a stolen election) is greater than before. I sincerely don’t want it to happen, but these people have shown that they have no scruples whatsoever, and the dems and the media have shown that they have no backbones or principles.

    God, this is profoundly depressing to write.

  17. #17 Kristine
    October 4, 2006

    I don’t read TPM (though I will, when my tornadic life slows down)–this news was on the front page of my AOL account, if you can believe it.

    Anybody else totally creeped that we’re just hearing about this arrest and it happened back in June?

  18. #18 Steve_C
    October 4, 2006

    I think he should get his Free Speech spot on the CBS news.

  19. #19 oldhippie
    October 4, 2006

    “Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission under this chapter.” (Emphasis mine)

    Yes that goes for the kangaroo courts. But I think there is also something about detaining enemy combatants without trial, and I think this apples to Americans also if they are declared enemy Combatants. They don’t have to fight, a contibution to the wrong charity can do it.

    It is actually quite a catch 22. If, as an alien, you survive and win the kangaroo court, the administration can say you are still an enemy combatant, and stick you right back in jail. They are the sole judge and jury when it comes to who is an enemy combatant, as I understand it.

  20. #20 RP
    October 4, 2006

    Sinclair Lewis was a time traveller. I’ve just started “It Can’t Happen Here” and the fit is way too close.

    General Edgeways: “for these United States, alone among the great powers, have no desire for foreign conquest”
    [snip]
    “What I’d really like us to do would be to come out and tell the whole world: We have power, and power is its own excuse.”

    Mrs. Gimmitch: Women, she pointed out, had done nothing with the vote. [...] In fact, Woman must resume her place in the Home

    And a lot more I don’t have the patience to quote. It’s starting to make me queasy.

  21. #21 Chris Gruber
    October 4, 2006

    I’m not sure if anyone else has mentioned it yet, but the only reason the otherwise fine (for the most part) Weimar constitution was undermined and made room for Hitler to do what he did was the Emergency Powers. Once he had that and a convenient excuse (the burning of the Reichstag), scared Germans gave in to their fears of the Other and, well, the rest is sadly history.

    Will this shift towards approval of torture and such bring us to something similar? I shudder to think.

  22. #22 snoey
    October 4, 2006

    Orac – without habeus corpus how do you assert your claim that you are a citizen?

  23. #23 Toni Riga
    October 4, 2006

    “Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission under this chapter.”

    HA! – that’s proof that the government has been hiding evidence of alien contact. And the aliens have been helping the terrorists all this time, probably to make the planet easier to take over.

    We can only hope that our squid overlords can protect us.

  24. #24 Joshua
    October 4, 2006

    “Am I naive to think that the Supreme Court, even in its conservative bent, will overturn this?”

    Yes. Because the whole point of suspending habeas corpus this way is to remove all legal recourse. When they come for you, you won’t even see a court, nevermind the Supreme Court.

    Of course, now I’m being reminded of “The Guns of Brixton”…

    “When they kick down your front door
    How you gonna come
    With you hands on your head
    Or on the trigger of your gun”

  25. #25 BMurray
    October 4, 2006

    I’ve been saying for years that Americans who insist they own firearms in order to preserve their freedom against a tyrannical government have given lie to their position by not having discharged them accurately at any government officials since Reagan.

    You’re either incompetent or lying and really want to own guns because they are fun.

  26. #26 Millimeter Wave
    October 4, 2006

    So, for a person to fall under this law, he or she has to be both an alien and an unlawful enemy combatant. Now that I’ve read the whole thing, I’m pretty sure that the law doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens.

    I don’t think I’m the first person to make this comment, but I don’t think this matters. If habeus provisions don’t exist for even one class of people, the game is up. If the government asserts that you fall into that category, there is no means to challenge that assertion.

    What’s really scary is that the administration has been operating as if this law was already on the books for a long time, and with applicability to US citizens too (has anybody heard anything about Jose Padilla recently?). This is just the first step in writing it into law.

    I’m not (yet) a US citizen, but long time resident, and although I think there’s little legal impact arising from that status I must say it makes me just a little more nervous.

    The only dim hope is that at least one house of congress flips in November and somehow manages to reassert the value of the constitution. I’m not personally hopeful; I fully expect that, given the narrow margins in such a large number of seats, and given the lack of trustworthy results currently produced by voting machines, it’s pretty much inevitable that the congressional elections are going to end up in the courts. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if both houses of congress are retained by the GOP, no matter what prior polls say.

  27. #27 Erasmus
    October 4, 2006

    BMurray that is hilarious. third option, cowards. i am a gun owner though.

    my problem is with the people who think that somehow voting out these guys and voting in other guys is going to do a damn thing. i appreciate the place that populism has played in american history but jesus christ how much common sense does it take to understand that these fuckers are all the same? power corrupts, blah blah.

    any one who would actually want to serve in a political office is not fit for the job.

    and the implicit assumption that it is fixable, just gone wrong, is completely dissonant with reality. when has a government ever worked for everyone? when has it not just worked for those who were in power?

    i’ve got a few ideas of examples but they aren’t really governments. we should all live in teepees and hunt for a living.

  28. #28 drew hempel
    October 4, 2006

    Gee just hoping this doesn’t get censored — like my final U of MN Daily staff op-ed column in which I exposed how Dr. Art Harkin promoted his mentor Werner von Braun (with a front page article for a graduate program newsletter) without even mention von Braun personally supervising slave labor that led to the death of 20,000 people.

    Oh — and the Democratic National Convention was the most fascist experience in my life! 1996 Chicago — or was it 1994? — regardless a whole army of cops, standing at attention, waiting to attack nonviolent citizens who not only weren’t not allowed within 3 blocks of the Democrats, but who could not even “break” the law through civil disobedience. (the convention itself was just CIA-Wall St. slime, found out only through subterfuge on my part). The cops made very clear that not only would they “bash our heads like they did in ’68″ but the cops would decide what was the law or not. Cross a clear property line as trespassing! No — not anymore says the cops. The cops also raided our activist conference — for no reason! And what did the media do — well after everyone left the protest national t.v. showed someone burning a U.S. flag!!

    Welcome to the NWO.

  29. #29 T_U_T
    October 4, 2006

    but jesus christ how much common sense does it take to understand that these fuckers are all the same? power corrupts, blah blah.

    And how much voluntary ignorance it takes to overlook the simple fact that there are, and were, people who while in the office did NOT attempt to turn their country into a dictatorship.

  30. #30 T_U_T
    October 4, 2006

    when has a government ever worked for everyone? when has it not just worked for those who were in power?

    google “phossy jaw” http://www.rootsweb.com/~belghist/Flanders/Pages/phossy.htm

    we should all live in teepees and hunt for a living.

    Stop talking about it and START DOING IT, then. Good luck with dodging bullets, artillery shells and incoming cruise missiles ;-)

  31. #31 George
    October 4, 2006

    Solidarity! Spread it through the blogosphere:

    Dick Cheney! I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible!

  32. #32 Libertarian Tom
    October 4, 2006

    Tyrannical government got you down? Democracy in tatters? Unbridled, arbitrary abuse of power by those in upper levels of government crimping your karma?

    Good thing the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution lets us arm ourselves against such an eventuality. As the framers of the constitution noted, the armed citizenry is the surest protection against tyranny.

    Oops. Never mind. According to the ACLU the 2nd applies only to “The State”. Good thing, too. I’m much better off entrusting my safety to the government. After all, the government is here to protect me from…..well…..from the government.

    Most of you here asked for it. Now you got it. Enjoy it. Don’t give me any crap about our “Bill of Rights” until you support ALL of them. Otherwise your “rights” exist only at the pleasure of GW Bush and his ilk, left and right.

  33. #33 Joshua
    October 4, 2006

    Oh, please. Like gun ownership would make a damned bit of difference.

  34. #34 T_U_T
    October 4, 2006

    You are kidding us, aren’t you ?

    the armed citizenry is the surest protection against tyranny.

    WOW ! Another victim of thanatophoric stupidity in the same day… I hope it is not contagious…

    libertarian wannabe-militias vs. the army… cheap rifles against tanks, aicraft, aircraft carriers, missiles, etc…

  35. #35 Joshua
    October 4, 2006

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the legal right to bear arms. I do think there should be sensible legal controls on gun ownership at least as restrictive as the controls on owning cars.

    But the idea that the antidote for this country’s lunacy is a bunch of jokers with rifles is flatly absurd. It may yet come to a point where that is the only option, but that point is not here yet. Not while we still have elections. And we shouldn’t kid ourselves as to the results of a bloody civil war. The Confederacy fought the Union on far more equal terms than a modern uprising would have, but they still lost.

  36. #36 Graculus
    October 4, 2006

    There’s a reason the second ammenment isn’t the first ammendment. Without the first all other rights mean exactly nothing. The NRA crowd is quite happy to see all other rights stripped away, so long as they can clutch their guns, precious guns, to their bosoms.

    But it’s worse than that, the 2nd ammendment first crew are quite authoritarian themselves, so long as they can maintain the fiction of their “independence”. They are the ones that will be shooting at “liberals” and anyone else that doesn’t toe the crypto-fascist party line long before the cops or army come for you.

    Krystallnacht may have been orchestrated by the “executive”, but it was also citizens that carried it out.

  37. #37 Nomen Nescio
    October 4, 2006

    Joshua, if we had controls on gun ownership analogous to the ones on car ownership, we would have to drastically loosen existing gun control laws. there’s no federal background check needed to purchase a car; no minimum age limit for mere ownership of a car, just for driving it on public roads; no local (city- or state-wide) means for limiting engine displacement, gas tank capacity, or maximum velocity; and so on.

    i wouldn’t mind seeing a competency test for prospective weapons owners, though. that idea would make sense, provided it wasn’t designed to deliberately minimize weapons ownership by being prohibitively difficult to pass. if it were nationally standardized and conferred the right to purchase, own, and possibly even carry concealed in all fifty states — analogous to a driver’s license — then quite a few pro-gun lobbyists would gladly get behind it. politicians in several major cities would blow their tops, however, at having to loosen their local restrictions that far.

  38. #38 Jim Royal
    October 4, 2006

    How can we light a fire under the craven Democrats?

    You can’t.

    Anyone who opposes this legislation will be painted as soft on terror and will be derided as a threat almost as large as the terrorists themselves. This fact alone is the main reason why Democrats cannot rally against the Bush administration, and why Kerry was not elected.

    From my perch here in Montreal, the people of the USA are screwed but good for years to come. I can’t see anyone turning it around, especially if the next president is a Republican.

  39. #39 Millimeter Wave
    October 4, 2006

    But the idea that the antidote for this country’s lunacy is a bunch of jokers with rifles is flatly absurd.

    some might argue that that is the problem in the first place…

  40. #40 Steve_C
    October 4, 2006
  41. #41 bernarda
    October 4, 2006

    “hostilities against the United States”

    It is also necessary to define “hostilities”. It can’t be just because the prez says so.

    RP, on your post about Sinclair Lewis, you might also be interested in Jack London’s “The Iron Heel”. I think you can find it online.

  42. #42 Caledonian
    October 4, 2006

    The question is not whether you’re angry enough to vote against Bush. The question is whether you’re angry enough to not vote Democrat.

    If the Democratic party will not stand up and resist the fascism spreading across our country, it should be abandoned. Start a new party, back an Independent candidate, the specific strategy is unimportant as long as decent people are put forward, but Democrats can no longer afford to give their loyalty to an empty brand label.

  43. #43 Keanus
    October 4, 2006

    No one has yet mentioned Bush’s practice of issuing signing statements with each bill he signs. I would guess that, if this bill reaches his desk, he’ll issue a signing statement upon signing that excuses him from recognizing any of its provisions if he believes it’s in the country’s best interest. In other words, he’ll surely view the entire bill as an academic exercise to impress the Supreme Court and make the stuffed shirts in Congress think they actually did something. I suspect that he has no intention of paying the slightest bit of attention to it. It’s just so much window dressing for the public.

    I also take issue a bit with Orac’s interpretation. Upon reading the bill, it’s clear that anyone who’s been designated an unlawful enemy combatant (something that the president or his subordinates may do without any definition of how that’s arrived at) may be held indefinitely without recourse to habeas corpus ever. Also once a person has been so designated, whether an alien or citizen, he/she has no recourse to habeas corpus. To wit Sec. 5, Paragraph a says “No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States…is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories.” That applies to anyone whom IL Duce, er I mean Bush, has designated an unlawful enemy combatant, citizen or alien. Sounds pretty ominous to me.

  44. #44 suirauqa
    October 4, 2006

    My question would probably be very naive; nonetheless, I need to ask: why is there a need, in a constitutional democracy (at least, on the face of it!), for civilian citizens to own and carry weapons? If the ready answer is ‘to defend one’s life and property’, why is it claimed that there is a law of the land – which is supposed to take care of the citizens, and why are the taxpayer dollars spent in maintaining an internal force that is supposed to maintain law and order?

    If the ready answer, on the other hand, is ‘to be a deterrent’, why is United States so against other nations nuclear (sorry, nu-kealer!) capabilities? Isn’t this ‘deterrant’ argument used oh-so-tenuously for every escalation of the arms race?

    People in this forum have talked about the existing gun control laws. Isn’t it obvious by now that the so-called ‘control’ is effing non-existent, if just any principal-hating kid, any misogynistic perv, any warped lunatic can lay his hands on a gun and go out on a shooting rampage? American citizens, how much bloodier does this have to get before you guys wake up to the reality?

    It is wisely said: As you sow, so you reap. Perhaps this once-great, once-free nation does need a dose of the bitter pill called a police state, in order for the people to realize what they had and what they lost, a la V for Vendetta! I just hope it is not too late for them.
    —————————————————–
    PS: Steve_C: Re your question about making the hyperlinks like Kristine, all you have to do is put an A reference tag with the hyperlink around your word of choice, in this manner:

    <a href="http://scienceblogs.com">Scienceblog link</a>

    ,
    then the phrase “Scienceblog link” would become a clickable hyperlink.

  45. #45 JJR
    October 5, 2006

    Good post, Hairhead! (by the way, your lawyer friend is in DEEP denial, but you probably knew that already)

    Hairhead wrote:
    “…I think the possibility of suspended elections (if the groundswell is so great that a stolen election would clearly be a stolen election) is greater than before. I sincerely don’t want it to happen, but these people have shown that they have no scruples whatsoever, and the dems and the media have shown that they have no backbones or principles.”

    …Don’t forget they’ve already got contingency plans for this kind of crap already…you might’ve missed it, but do any of you recall the “what if” stories in the media awhile back about “what if a terrorist attack were to suddenly wipe out the new president and most of the assembled elected government on inaguration day…what ever would we do?”; My dry response was “hold new elections and pick up the pieces.” But that’s not the government’s response…the plans are already in place, a kind of authoritarian shadow government already in place, ready to jump up and “legally” seize power in the event of such an dastardly inside-job, er, I mean, external attack!

    I’m admittedly an obsessive news junkie with a long memory so I remember it clearly and it still creeps me out. Luckily Diebold, et. al. not only “delivered Ohio for Bush”, but the rest of the frickin’ country.

    I’m still waiting for Bush to out and out declare himself El Presidente Por Vida, and then for some General officer or Colonel to re-read their oath about protecting and defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign AND domestic and still have their few remaining braincells fire in just such a way, and…

    Yes, the US military against a lightly armed civilian populace would be a pretty lopsided battle. Unless the Army breaks and part of the Army sides with the populace against the plutocrats. It’s a problematic example, but the Bolshevik Revolution wouldn’t have been possible in Russia without the Tsar’s army reaching the breaking point and enough soldiers (and their equipment!) going over to the Reds to make the key difference, plus a wave of mass support for the cause.

    And ordinary Iraqis with guns have been doing not too shabbily against a vastly superior mobilized and mechanized Army. The Tet Offensive in Vietnam was technically a tactical victory for the US and ARVN forces, who inflicted positively horrendous casualties on the NVA and the VC, but it was a long term strategic victory for the NVA/VC (popular resistance, in other words). George Washington rarely engaged the British head on, and when he did, he usually lost. Wasn’t until the French came in with their Naval support and Washington had the opportunity at Yorktown and siezed it. The American South in the Civil War took Ft. Sumpter, and handed the Union humiliating defeat after defeat and nearly took DC. It was when they decided to take the war North, fight a war of conquest rather than a purely defensive war against a much better armed, equipped foe with a much larger industrial base…that their fate was sealed. The North might have continued the fight, but the South’s attempted invasion certainly steeled their resolve and rallied everyone in the Union around Lincoln.

    Not all these stories have particularly salient lessons for the present moment other than, try to avoid over-simplifying when using historical examples, and don’t discount the courage of simple but armed people defending theirs and their own at a local level

    Even if we made Barak Obama president, don’t you think the National Security State wouldn’t at some point just JFK his ass? I do.

    Secession, non-cooperation, local mutual aid, passive resistance…and not-so passive if it comes to it (or rather, if they come to you and your enclave). Contrary to what we may like to believe about all right-wingers, there are right wing populists who are dimly aware of what’s going on in Washington and getting nervous about it, starting to say nice things about the ACLU that shock their other conservative friends, and starting to say alarming things about corporations, banks, etc, that startle their more mainstream contemporaries on that side of the aisle.

    Some of the things that sounded like laughable “militia crazy talk” to me in the 1990s don’t sound so nutty anymore…some of it still is nuts…like rambling on about UN helicopters, etc. But there will be black helicopters, it’s just that they will be black SpecOps helicopters as the last lines between the police and military are obliterated. Loss of sovereignty to the UN? Laughable. Loss of Sovereignty to the WTO, GATS, etc? Already happening.

    Not all gun owners are empty headed, flag-waving Bush lovers. Be glad of that. I have enough of an Anarchist streak in me that I can sometimes find common ground with even right-wing Populists, so long as they’re Populists and have come to the realization that the real struggle is Top versus Bottom (i.e. the rest of us, the majority, the demos of democracy) rather than right v. left–there’s lot of overlap in these struggles, to be sure, but it’s not a 1-to-1 correspondence. I didn’t used to believe that, but now I do.

    Want to scare more mainstream NRA types? Remind them that the subtext of the 2nd Amendment, the reason for its existence, is because the Founders, the best of them, anyway, believed in NO STANDING ARMIES. Local militias only—>”well regulated” meaning more like: “meeting often to drill and keep their skills honed, for the common defense.” The National Guard, being basically an appendage of the regular army that can be federalized by the president at will with local control completely removed was NOT what the Framers had in mind on this.
    2nd Amendment = NO STANDING ARMIES, and that is truly…TRULY a RADICAL f*cking idea. Why? Because the founders new…and so did Eisenhower, who also tried to warn us (as did Lincoln, at the tail end of the Civil War), a large military establishment becomes a state-within-a-state, with its own agenda, its own interests, has its own political center of gravity.

    Things started to go wrong with the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion by the regular Army. It always does me good to re-read Eisenhower’s farewell speech…he was no saint, but as an ex-military man, he did know what he was talking about, and his fears were well founded and have born the terrible fruit we reap today. As regards Keith Olberman, better late than never, I say. I’d be honored to share a detention center cell with him anywhere and guard his back in a prison riot. ;-)

    I’m planning on wearing a V-for-Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask/hat/wig for Halloween this year.

  46. #46 Derick Ovenall
    October 5, 2006

    All religions are fascistic and it’s clear that we live in a growing theocracy. The late mathematician, Paul Erdos, always referred to God as “The Supreme Fascist”.

  47. #47 Keith Douglas
    October 5, 2006

    Erasmus: The old canard about “anyone who wants to run shouldn’t” is why I advocate that democracies have two political houses to check one another, one elected out of career politicians (like existing ones) and one appointed much like a jury.

    suirauqa: I have raised similar arguments from time to time, and some people have actually claimed that private citizens should be allowed to own nuclear weapons or whatever else.

    I also (as another Montrealer) more or less agree with what Jim Royal said – the trainwreck has happened; it only remains to be seen if it gets worse (another train collides) or whether somehow something can be done.

  48. #48 g.
    October 8, 2006

    I didn’t know “assault” and “insult” were homophones in current american language ;-)
    I saw the interview with this guy on democracy now (here, about 9 minutes in) and his account was quite … insightful.

  49. #49 Ichthyic
    October 8, 2006

    Anyone who opposes this legislation will be painted as soft on terror and will be derided as a threat almost as large as the terrorists themselves. This fact alone is the main reason why Democrats cannot rally against the Bush administration, and why Kerry was not elected.

    sometimes the best way to get out of a trap you know is there, is just to spring it anyway. You can’t move forward if all you do is stare at the trap in front of you.

    The dems need to get tough, spring the traps, deal with the consequences, and move on already.

    Hopefully, they would learn not to let their enemies set up traps for them to begin with.

    …and in this case, if they had stood up early enough, there would be no trap to have to spring.