In which I steal material wholesale

Unholy Moses’ Obituary for America is too good not to reprint:

Washington ? America, United States of, died Sept. 28, 2006, after a six year illness. The family states that is was, in fact, the domestic foes, not foreign, that finally took their toll.

Born in 1776 in Philadelphia, America grew up in an age of reason, matured during industrial expansion, and spent its final years basking in a glow of technology. Her parents were Checks and Balances, while her second set of parents were Habeas Corpus and Due Process. Admittedly a complex family, they enjoyed more than two centuries of success.?

Surviving her are more than 300 million living children still at home, and countless others who now reside all over the globe.

There will be no memorial service, as most of her children are too busy watching reality television, playing video games, and trying to get rich. Thus, they may not even know that she has gone until they realize it is too late.

They family asks that you leave your last respects here, or make a donation here or here, in the hopes that she may eventually be brought back to live another day.

And may whatever god or gods exist have mercy on all of our souls.

We do indeed live in the dictatorship of America now, an America where citizens can be detained indefinitely without trial, tortured, refused habeas corpus, and convicted and sentenced based on secret evidence.

And it happened with a whimper. A meaningless compromise, backed ultimately by members of both parties, validating practices that were never acceptable.

The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days to atone for our sins. There’s a lot to atone for these days.


  1. #1 Dave_B
    September 29, 2006

    Good grief. This is a science oriented blog, right?

    Can we skip the hysteria? I mean, really. A dictatorship?

    Whatever you might find to dislike about this bill, it does not apply to citizens, only aliens. And the bill defines aliens this way:

    (3) ALIEN- The term `alien’ means a person who is not a citizen of the United States.

    Please stick to the facts.

  2. #2 Scott Belyea
    September 29, 2006

    I’m with Dave_B. This ranks alongside many of the anti-evolution and anti-gay screeds regularly flayed by ScienceBloggers.

    Just a smidgen of perspective would be welcome …

  3. #3 Matt McIrvin
    September 29, 2006

    Wrong. An underreported subsection of the bill makes it possible for the DoD to designate absolutely anyone an “unlawful enemy combatant” and detain them indefinitely, regardless of citizenship. Citizens would still technically have habeas corpus rights, but these would be useless since the law effectively legitimizes their detention.

    The bill’s provisions on military tribunals apply only to alien unlawful enemy combatants, but the law’s definition of an unlawful enemy combatant applies to citizens as well, and, as Balkin explains behind that link, implies that such citizens can be indefinitely detained without trial.

    It’s possible, maybe even likely, that the courts will strike this down, but I really don’t want to depend on that sort of thing.

  4. #4 Josh
    September 29, 2006

    Thanks, Matt. It’s surprising that people would criticize a passage without actually reading (or at least responding to) the link. (BTW, is this the Matt McIrvin of a.r.k. fame?)

    My use of the term dictatorship rests on that terms historical meaning. A Roman dictator was a person in whom absolute power was concentrated by the Senate for a period of time, usually in times of crisis. If the US Senate didn’t just do exactly the same thing, I really don’t know what would qualify.

    Rome fell after the Senate forgot to take back their powers. We can hope the US doesn’t repeat the same error.

  5. #5 monkeyhawk
    September 29, 2006

    Years and years of listening to conservatives state that the Constitution doesn’t *grant* rights, but *guarantees* them; that the Bill of Rights merely enumerates specific rights the government cannot infringe upon; that the freedom of religion, speech, assembly, habeus corpus, double-jeopardy, trial by jury, face-your-accuser, freedom from unlawful search and siezure, yes (even though I think it has something to do within the context of a well-regulated militia) the right to keep and bear arms… are not *bestowed* by the government, but are in the Constitution to prevent the government from getting too powerful.

    When Frist said on the Senate floor that “…we can’t be giving ‘these people’ ordinary rights…,” I heard a quantum shift of so-called “conservatism.” Now the Fuhrer decides who is worthy of “rights.”

    Frankly, it worries me that there’s a Machiavelian streak in me that looks forward to the downfall of the current Republican junta, and the prospect of packing Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Randall Terry and their steeple-sheeple up in cattle cars and shipping them off to “Jesus Camps” in South Dakota… but it wouldn’t be America anymore. And what George WMD Bush is doing to the Constitution these days assures it.

    If they don’t come after me first.

  6. #6 Sean
    September 29, 2006


    My wife is a PR, but not a citizen. So she could be denied due process if some neo-fascist decides so?

    God, I’m sick of fuckwits like you who are too blind to see where something like this could lead.

  7. #7 Dave_B
    September 30, 2006


    You’re right that a citizen can be found to be an unlawful enemy combatant, but this law doesn’t apply to them.

    In his final paragraph, Balkin ends up invalidating his concerns over citizens being caught up this this law.

    However, what if the DoD determines that a U.S. citizen is an alien in a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, claims that its determination is conclusive under section 948a(1)(ii) and ships the person off to Guantanamo? …

    The reason is, of course, because an alien is defined in the bill as someone who is not a citizen. A Military tribunal can’t, by definition, find a citizen to be an alien.


    I do appreciate the concerns you and your wife might have, and I stated as much in my first post.

    Whatever you might find to dislike about this bill…

    but statements like the following one are factually wrong, and they border on the hysterical.

    That’s my point.

    We do indeed live in the dictatorship of America now, an America where citizens can be detained indefinitely without trial, tortured, refused habeas corpus, and convicted and sentenced based on secret evidence.


    “fuckwits like you”

    People who can’t make a point without resorting to personal attacks always diminish their position, IMO.

  8. #8 Bokanovsky Process
    September 30, 2006

    Who is JH, and why does he say dumb things?

  9. #9 jason
    September 30, 2006

    I must have missed Josh’s declaration that he would only discuss science here . . .

    This is not hysteria in even the most generous of definitions. This is concern for what has been lost in America that should never have been lost.

    And the bill can be applied to citizens. Read it. You’ll see it grants the president the discretion to determine precisely who it applies to simply by identifying them as enemies of the US. Since no court can intervene (according to the bill), this is absolutely unfettered power to arrest at Dubya’s discretion. I think it’s rather a simple point of view to believe that authority could not possibly be directed toward us.

    Oh, wait! It already has. Jose Padilla? Heard of him? And there are many others, but only one example is necessary to show it can and will be done.

  10. #10 Josh
    September 30, 2006

    “A Military tribunal can’t, by definition, find a citizen to be an alien.”

    But can anyone overrule the DoD if it does anyway? After all, we’re talking about detaining people without trial and without habeas corpus. How would a citizen assert his/her rights without a legal process?

  11. #11 mark
    October 1, 2006

    I thought the Mark Twain quote beneath the title of this blog served as the “purpose and scope” description.
    It’s stuff like this that makes me want to vote for Hillary, just to see the reaction of the anti-constitution fools.

  12. #12 CSA
    October 4, 2006

    Rep. Jerry Moran of Kansas was one of only 7 Republicans who voted against the bill.

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