Tag Archives: civil liberties

Living under empire

8 Aug

The US Empire doesn’t just police the world anymore. It polices its own citizens as well, and the militarization of the US continues:

Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.

Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants.

Thankfully, and quite surprisingly, Bush refused the proposal, which would have been an unprecedented act of tyranny and abuse of power. One of the revolutionary concepts behind the drafting of the Constitution was the separation of law enforcement from the military. Kings and monarchs of the past often used the military to enforce their restrictive laws and force their subjects to submit to their will.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, one of the few good laws ever passed by Congress, was meant to enforce just this concept. Just the fact that using the military in this fashion was on the minds of some of the top members of the Bush gang is just one more example of their open disregard for the law and the Constitution.

Though Bush did not succumb to this seducing temptation, Americans are already accustomed to armed US Marines at drunk-driver catching “check points,” where we are guilty before proven innocent, and armed guards at US airports, where federal thugs monitor us as their fingers are inches away from their triggers.

And for those think our Great Leader Barackus Obamus would never dream of using the military on the continental US, you might be disappointed. The god-king already has 20,000 American troops ready at his disposal just in case some of us start raising too much of a racket in oppostion to Imperial DC.

All of this, of course, in the name of “national security.”

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Orwell’s Britain and America’s future

9 Jul

Since watching Daniel Hannan’s fiery speech attacking British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last March, I’ve started to pay more attention to the US’s faithful subject, Great Britain. Hannan, a member of the European parliament, is the “Ron Paul” of England, and his popularity is growing in the same manner that Paul’s presidency bid did in the last US “election.” Hannan tars-and-feathers his Prime Minister for 3 minutes on the floor of the European Parliament for his government’s massive borrowing and spending, nationalization of major industries and institutions, most banks, and his utter incompetence.

Hannan, and his rising Conservative Party, are also highly critical of the many police-state measures that make George Orwell look more prophetic by the day. England, the birthplace of the Magna Carta, has over 4 million closed-circuit TV cameras that watch their every move, “speaking cameras” that warn people to pick up litter or stop loitering, and very restrictive gun laws (gun control is mandatory in any tyranny, whether it was Hitler disarming the Jews years before the Holocaust or the Jim Crow South that barred blacks from owning guns).

Not only are these policies huge violations of privacy and civil liberties, they are ineffective and laughably inefficient. There is no evidence that the presence of cameras deters any crime, and it’s easy to see why.  Britain’s cameras are frequently unmonitored and out of order, and the data they collect creates such a large database that it makes it much tougher to catch actual criminals. The more eyes Big Brother has, the less he tends to see.

The US and Britain have a so-called “special relationship,” and it is true in that what happens in Britain slowly but surely finds its away across the Atlantic. Britain was once a sun-defying empire that is now a broke and receding surveillance state. The US is a debt-ridden empire that has quite a few Orwellian tools to control and monitor its domestic empire over our cities, counties, and states. Cameras in stoplights that actually increase accidents, drug prohibition, cops that look like soldiers, warrantless wire-tapping, and armed guards at airports are all too common in the “land of the free.”

Privacy is essential in a free society, but unfortunately both liberals and conservatives don’t do a thorough enough job of defending it. Liberals are  correct that the right to privacy is threatened when the State restricts abortions and enforces morality, but do not object to massive invasions of economic privacy, like the income tax.  Conservatives want government “off their backs” but embrace it in defense of our foreign wars and restrictions of civil liberties.

Americans are not faced quite yet with the violations of privacy and liberty that are imposed on British citizens, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen here. Government, Nietzsche’s cold, cruel monster, feeds on power like an addiction, and the more freedom, privacy, and private property it takes, the more it wants. Though the thought of Orwell’s nightmares becoming reality in the US is a frightening one, it is comforting to know that government is too clumsy, inefficient, and wasteful to be omnipotent.

The beauty of privatizing marriage

28 Jun

What an interesting weekend it was in San Francisco. The streets were flooded with Warped Tour fans and Pride Weekend supporters, who held up “legalize gay” signs and rainbow flags. Truly a beautiful sight.

It is just sad and ironic that in “liberal” California, we have yet to see the legalization of same-sex marriage. What it boils down to is having the institution of marriage being monopolized by the State; you have to have a “licence” to get married. The government should have no business regulating the conduct of two consenting adults entering into a contract, and getting the government to recognize gay couples is not the answer. The answer lies in getting the State out of the marriage and contract business, so conservatives will no longer have the power to use the government to force their morality on us and liberals won’t have the power to meddle in private market contracts.

Marriage privatization: a truly liberal concept.

Obama’s ‘transparency’ myth

28 Jun

Obama, who promised Americans a more open and “transparent” government than the previous eight years of lawlessness, has continuously proven that he is openly embracing this same corruption. First, it was his “preventive detention” reversal, where he promised to continue Bush’s defacto suspension of habeas corpus. Then it was the suppression of the most recent Abu Ghraib torture photos (which showed U.S. soldiers beating, torturing, and raping Arab captives). According to The Washington Post (thanks to the indispensable Glenn Greenwald), Obama is now planning an executive order that would “reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely,” which could also stall his supposed plans to close the U.S. Gulag at Guantanamo Bay. The article actually favorably quotes two former Bush national security officials who argued the merits of similar proposals when Bush was in office.

The “detainees” that this order would apply to would be subject to an “annual presidential review,” meaning that every year, the Pharaoh alone will decide whether or not the captured prisoners will continue to rot away in government cages without trials for another year.

This is astonishing. Obama would have the power to lock up anyone that he wants at his own discretion, without trial or without any resemblance of constitutional rights, and then throw away the key. This is all being justified by the so-called “war on terror,”  a war that by definition has no end and which the U.S. cannot conceivably win. Well, there are some winners (defense contractors and lobbyists), but the losers, which include our dead and maimed soldiers, our civil liberties, our currency and economy, constitutional government, and hundreds of thousands of Arab civilians, far outnumber them.

The irony of Obama’s election is that previous critics of the Bush Regime have jumped on Obama’s sinking ship of mimicry. There are a few Bush critics who are critical of Obama, like the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, but one can search in vain trying to find the mainstream Left saying a harsh word about the God-King. He’s their guy after all, and criticism is counterproductive to Obama’s efforts to nationalize every industry he can get his filthy hands on and pass the largest tax increase in U.S. history. Who cares about egregious constitutional violations now that Bush is out office?

Obama’s arrogance is worse than the Bush Junta’s, and that’s pretty hard to top. During Obama’s sickeningly ironic speech on civil liberties last month justifying these “preventive detentions,” he received a rounding applause as he stood in front of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives. Never in the short history of this country have corruption, secrecy, and war mongering been so supported, defended, and worshipped by so many. Queen Amidala, who witnessed her republic crumble in front of her very eyes, summed it up best: “…so this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause…”

Bush and Cheney were pretty upfront that they would act however the hell they wanted, Constitution be damned; Bush was “The Decider.” As Digby correctly notes, Obama and his thugs believe they have this same right to shred the Constitution, and the more his faux-charm and faux-eloquence continue to dazzle the embarrassing establishment media, he’ll be able to get away with anything.

American are fooled every four years into thinking that we have a say in the electoral process, but every four (or eight) years we choose a Republican Caesar or a Democrat Caesar, an elected dictator. Monarchs and emperors of the past liked to fashion narcissistic grandiose titles for themselves, and we should start applying this same rule to the current occupier of the Imperial Throne, Barackuss Obamus. Or better yet, Bush II.

*Please visit my Examiner blog and my Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, which I update frequently.

Obama to revive Bush’s military tribunals for Gitmo detainees

27 Jun

President Obama has never failed to disappoint since he took office barely four months ago. I can faintly remember hearing something about candidate Obama offering “change” from eight painful years of Bush; ladies fainted, Chris Matthews got chills, and the streets of San Francisco were flooded with cheering worshippers. But somewhere in Crawford, Texas, George W. Bush is smiling.

Our new President is doing everything he possibly can to perpetuate Bush’s follies, from expanding the wars in the Middle East with no end in sight, signing trillion dollar stimuluses, nationalizing industries, and eroding civil liberties (all things that Bush was hated for doing). So why not revive the Bush era military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay detainees, as Obama is now promising to do?

Though once a “critic” of these tribunals, Obama says his military tribunals will be nicer and change-ier:

“‘These reforms will begin to restore the commissions as a legitimate forum for prosecution, while bringing them in line with the rule of law,’ said Obama, who opposed the law that created the tribunals during the administration of his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush.”

This decision has annoyed some civil liberties groups, but the Republicans couldn’t be happier. Senators Mitch McConnell and John McCain have both praised the move, and it sounds like Obama is now heeding Dick Cheney’s lizard-tongued rhetoric.

The right-wing commentators are also cheering this on over at NRO, comparing Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama to Dick Cheney…in a good way, and praising Obama’s wartime torture photo “secrecy.”

Obama is doing quite well pleasing the Statists on both sides; the Left is supporting his escalation of the war in Afghanistan and his drone missile strikes in Pakistan, and the Right is cheering on his new “toughness” on national security, torture, and military prisons.

Here’s Thomas Sowell blogging at RealClearPolitics, getting giddy over torture in “Debate Over ‘Torture’ Lacks Seriousness”:

“What if it was your mother or your child who was tied up somewhere beside a ticking time bomb and you had captured a terrorist who knew where that was? Face it: What you would do to that terrorist to make him talk would make water-boarding look like a picnic.”

The debate on terrorism, torture, and tribunals is muddled in the midst of 24-esque, crazy hypothetical questions about ticking-time bombs, where we all have a minute before New York or Miami are blown to pieces unless we torture a detainee for information. Is this a realistic situation? Not in the least bit.

If the Muslims that we capture and extradite to the coast of Cuba were all guilty, wouldn’t a simple trial with presentations of evidence prove this? Well, nearly all of the people at Gitmo are completely innocent, guilty only of having Arab names and defending their homes, villages, wives, and children from American bombs.

Terrorism against the United States is not caused by hatred of our liberties (that fade with every passing day) or by “Islam-o-Fascism,” but by a hatred of our military presence in the Middle East. A 1953 CIA coup replacing Iran’s democratically elected leader with a thug, Reagan’s “peace-keeping” in Lebanon and bombing of Libya, the first Bush’s Iraq invasion that led to bases and troops in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, Clinton’s nearly daily bombing of Iraq, Bush’s Mesopotamian madness, and our blind support for brutal Israel policies; these are why we our hated in the Muslim world, and Obama’s bombs-away and tribunal policy is sure to further leave us more susceptible to retaliation.

War fever has sickened both political parties, liberals and conservatives, and nearly all major media networks. Their prescription is always more torture, more bombs, and more military spending.

When we will learn the dangerous and hubristic lessons of empire?