Well, that’s that

The House and the Senate approved the detainee bill. Bush is expected to sign it into law this weekend. At that point, and until it is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (which is by no means assured, given the partisanship of that body and the technicality that the only ones with the legal “standing” to challenge the new law will be those who have already been isolated from the legal system), America will be a dictatorship, with a head of government empowered to define the “enemy” as he sees fit and make any such person disappear forever with no legal remedy at all.

Thus ends the American Revolution, which began with these words defining the acts of a tyrant:

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  • For protecting [armed forces], by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States;
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury;
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences;
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

Bush is now that tyrant. We’ve come full circle. Sorry, Mr. Jefferson. Sorry, General Washington. Sorry to all the soldiers and patriots who ever made a sacrifice to preserve the Constitution. It was nice while it lasted.

How much worse will it get before it gets better? History suggests it will get very, very bad. The arrogant thuggishness of the radical right is already tacitly encouraged by the establishment. We’ve seen where this kind of thing can lead before.

I am unaware of any time in history that a society has reached a point like this and then turned back. The one and only thing that’s qualitatively different today from any past slide into despotism is the existence of the Internet. If hope exists, it must lie with the Internet’s ability to keep people informed, communicating, and organized. Would the Internet have forestalled the worst excesses of Nazism? Stalinism? Impossible to say for sure, but maybe. So naturally the Internet is therefore under attack.

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