Thursday, December 15, 2011

The United States of Gitmo

In the service of the never-ending and totally contrived War on Terror, the Writ of Habeas Corpus has been officially sacrificed on the altar of the New Security States of America. Congress has finally codified the defacto policy of indefinite detention of suspected terrorists without so much as a show trial.  What Bush the Younger started, Barack Obama has continued. Congress is simply carving it into stone for posterity.... for whatever right-wing presidential nutjobs come along in the not too distant future.

Here's what the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) boils down to: while ostensibly designed to fight Al Qaeda terrorists, it means the government can arrest you, accuse you of being a terrorist, and disappear you forever.  No evidence will be required, and you will not be allowed to plead your case before a judge.  

The initially-threatened presidential veto of NDA had nothing to do with Obama being a champion of civil liberties. He has never been a champion of civil liberties. He simply did not like the original language of the act, which would have stripped down his executive power as judge, jury and executioner.  Senator Carl Levin (who is being blamed by Obamapologists for this debacle) made it clear that the bill was being tweaked at the request of the White House.  Moreover, said Levin, it was Obama who insisted that American citizens not be exempted from the indefinite detainment clause. So according to the New York Times, the White House is now satisfied that the bill
"does not challenge or constrain the president’s ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the American people, and the president’s senior advisors will not recommend a veto."

Glenn Greenwald has been saying for a long time that Obama, and Bush/Cheney before him, have always had the self-bestowed judicial powers now officially granted to presidents. He was not at all surprised that the president has suddenly dropped his veto threat. From his blog: 
Both groups pointed (ACLU and Human Rights Watch) out that this is the first time indefinite detention has been enshrined in law since the McCarthy era of the 1950s, when — as the ACLU put it — “President Truman had the courage to veto” the Internal Security Act of 1950 on the ground that it “would make a mockery of our Bill of Rights” and then watched Congress override the veto. That Act authorized the imprisonment of Communists and other “subversives” without the necessity of full trials or due process (many of the most egregious provisions of that bill were repealed by the 1971 Non-Detention Act, and are now being rejuvenated by these War on Terror policies of indefinite detention). President Obama, needless to say, is not Harry Truman. He’s not even the Candidate Obama of 2008 who repeatedly insisted that due process and security were not mutually exclusive and who condemned indefinite detention as ”black hole” injustice.
Under the new law, even your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent will be tossed out the window.  Law Professor Patricia J.Williams of Columbia University writes:
During the Congressional debate over the NDAA, proponents like Senators Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham argued that when we capture someone who is deemed an enemy, we must start with the presumption that “the goal is to gather intelligence” and “prosecution is a secondary concern.” In numbingly infantile terms, they declared that “the meanest, nastiest killers in the world” should be questioned for “as long as it takes,” without them “lawyering up.” This need to make “them” talk was cited repeatedly, endlessly, as the main justification for military detention, with references to “surprise” technologies to get prisoners to speak. As though Abu Ghraib had never happened, there was exuberant embrace of methods Senator Graham promised would not be publicized by the Army Field Manual.
Look for the government getting hauled into court once Obama signs this bill into law.  It's not only blatantly unconstitutional, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. It's un-American:

 While the government has the right, under the laws of war, to detain prisoners captured on the battlefield until the end of hostilities, no president should have the power to declare the entire globe a war zone and then seize and detain civilian terrorism suspects anywhere in the world — including within the United States — and to hold them forever without charge or trial. But the Bush and Obama administrations have done just that, defining their powers too broadly, and claiming the authority to pick up and detain without charge or trial prisoners from around the globe who they deem engaged in the "war on terror."

Dec. 15, 2011: Happy 220th Anniversary to the Bill of Rights

Not that he ever heeds petitions from unmonied mortals, but here's where to sign to voice your displeasure to President Obama. I wrote in the little message box that theoretically, once Barack is out of office, the next president -- say, Newt --can declare him an enemy of the state and send him to one of those Halliburton detention camps that are rumored to exist.


traynorjf said...

This is a truly terrible development that is getting little comment from the MSM. And that is even more scary.

Patricia said...

No one is paying attention since everyone thinks a terrorist = Al Queda. So you are immediately guilty, no need of a trial.

Kat said...

@Patricia-- exactly. That is why I am so pissed off at my strongly pro labor senator. Like this can't be used against labor activists around the world.

Anonymous said...

Fascism usually does not come to a nation through a revolutionary war. Rather, it creeps in slowly, bit by bit, one piece of legislation at a time so as to not arouse too much opposition each step of the way. The result is that the fascist state is born even before most people know it's coming. They just wake up one day and find they're living in a fascist state and don't understand how they got there. Folks, we're in a fascist nation now. It's too late to stop it from coming because it's already here.

Zee said...

I am a political conservative who also believes that the threat to civil rights that is embodied in the National Defense Authorization Act marks a sad and scary turn of events in American history.

Benjamin Franklin was both perceptive and prophetic when he said:

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Wikiquote)

Our politicians now appear to be willing to sacrifice the Bill of Rights on the altar of false security. They are completely betraying the Constitution and all that it stands for, and threatening the liberty of all Americans.

For this and multitudinous other sins it's time that we turned them ALL out. What we need is a nation-wide rejection of ALL incumbents.

Returning our favorite crooks to office year after year--because they represent the lesser of two evils--is exactly what has gotten us into this current mess.

Merely voting for the other party in protest will also be a mistake, because those newly sent to Washington will foolishly believe they have a “mandate” to swing the pendulum wildly in the opposite direction, when—in my humble opinion—what the people want is mostly centrism.

However, sending each and every incumbent home, regardless of party, will send the clear message that we have had enough of all of them, and that it really is time for real change.

My bumper sticker for 2012 will read; “Save America—Vote Them ALL Out!”


Jackie said...

@Kat & Patricia...precisely! Are Occupiers "terrorists"?

Karen: Here's a link someone sent me re: FEMA "detainment camps." I spent a good long while clicking through the links and the picture is horrific!

Lou Riccio said...

Excellent Post, and All True!

Valerie said...

First of all, Welcome to Sardonicky, @Zee!

@Zee is one of my favourite commenters over at RealityChex. He is one of those reasonable Conservatives I keep yammering about - with whom reasonable Liberals can find alot of common ground.

I completely agree. With a handful of exceptions, they ALL need to be voted out. Almost all of them have chosen corporate power over Democracy and the people of our country.

@Anonymous - Wow! A very powerful comment - totally true and totally chilling.

Any chance we could get you to use some kind of name? I think you have commented before but I am not sure it is the same person. It can be "Thinker" or something like that but it would be great to be able to tell you apart from all the other Anonymouses.


I have to say, this whole thing really scares me and I am sure, it is put in place to silence dissent from people like me. And the poor protesters. Do they have to worry about being thrown into a dungeon if they are caught protesting? Fine if you are Naomi Wolfe with a high profile but what about Maggie Mouse - or Valerie Long Tweedie?

Anne Lavoie said...

Our Fearful Leaders want us to be afraid of a potential and undefined enemy while they are doing the work of the terrorists themselves. Our public servants have gutted the Constitution and have made a mockery of elections and Democracy itself, so what do we need enemies for?

The Defense Authorization Act truly assists in the Occupation of our citizenry in the military sense. We already have fully militarized police forces and Homeland Security shares its services, including Predator Drones, to assist local law enforcement. The Posse Comitatus Act is effectively defunct with the passage of this Act.

Personally, I see no reason to give Congress the courtesy of remaining in office. They rule by consent of the governed, and I think we might get consensus, based on their 9% approval rating, that we are withdrawing our consent.

Face it, the system is rigged and the deck is stacked for incumbants. They'll all be re-elected because of the big war chests they have built up. They have no respect for the citizens, and they don't play by the rules, but they want us to. I say forget it!

We should demand their resignations NOW either by going to Washington or by clearly voicing our demand OPENLY, LOUDLY and REPEATEDLY, FAR and WIDE, until they get the message that we will NOT tolerate them destroying our Constitution and our Democracy. Shame them out. I have already sent my Shame Letter to Obama.

Since Obama has already been practicing his role as Dictator, we'll hardly notice the difference until we adopt a new system of governance. We'll negotiate his proper role later. They need to get the message that WE are the masters and they are the servants, even if they live like royalty. We need to reclaim and proclaim that this country belongs to WE THE PEOPLE.

Remember the Pledge: 'for Liberty and Justice for all'. Some of us need to live up to it if we want to enjoy either one. Have. No. Fear. The Tunesians and Egyptians, et al., didn't and don't. Neither should we.

Kat said...

Nice to see Zee her. We had another conservative here for a short while. He was no Zee.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Karen: great post on a very important topic; In fact, there probably are few more important topics, for most people anywhere in the world, than the most powerful nation on earth taking a turn towards totalitarianism.

@Zee: I second Valerie's welcome to you at Sardonicky, and her comment about you being a reasonable conservative. You and I might disagree somewhat about the extent to which a government should be centrally proactive with regard to policies designed to be beneficial to the populace, but we are probably in very substantial agreement about the danger to civil liberties, and indeed, to the entire future of this democratic republic, posed by many of the actions of politicians during the past several decades.

When I saw 93 Senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, recently vote for military detention without trial of terrorism suspects, even within the borders of the U.S., it became starkly apparent that, at best, these politicians either have no knowledge of history or no courage, no willingness to stand up for fundamental Constitutional principles, if standing up should pose any risk, however small, to their political careers. (At worst, they agree with the destruction of the Constitution in the name of security, and are therefore of a political philosophy closer to fascism than the one upon which this nation was founded). Such a vote would have been bad enough in the hysterical immediate aftermath of September 11, or the (government-enabled) anthrax attacks; for it to occur ten years later is pathetic, and inexcusable. Given that vote, I am inclined to agree with your suggestion, Zee, to send them all packing.

@Anonymous: While it is true that there is often a long period of "creeping fascism" prior to its full-blown expression, that full-blown expression often comes about through a concerted, intense push over a short but not instantaneous time frame. As such, it is not inevitable. For a well-documented example of what I'm referring to, see "Hitler's Thirty Days to Power" by the historian Henry Ashby Turner, Jr.

Zee said...

I appreciate the "welcomes" from Valerie, Fred and Kat.

My goal in participating in this Progressive forum (along with Reality Chex) is to try to find that common ground between thinking Conservatives and Progressives--which I firmly believe exists--via calm and reasoned discussion.

I don't think that this country can survive much longer--as we know it-- without finding that "common ground."

There will likely be times that I'm going to irritate you mightily. When that happens, I ask only that you recall the times when we agreed on issues--such as today--and try to hear me out.

As Valerie and Kat will confirm (I hope) I am open to being "set straight" when politely confronted by articles and books that have facts that negate my position.

In return, I will do my level best to be polite and respectful both when expressing my opinions and when responding to criticism.

I'm glad to be allowed to participate here.

Will said...

Here's a message to the American people from Anonymous concerning the NDAA:

Valerie said...

OK, Will,

That video was downright creepy! Very 1984ish. I gotta say - it did not inspire me.

I think with the passing of this bill into law, more and more protesters will be doing their protesting covering their faces. And as soon as that happens, we will see more violence.

Whenever people can hide behind anonymity, there are those who feel safe being total jerks. They say things and do things they wouldn't do if they knew decent people were watching and judging their behaviour. Now, this law will force people to hide their identities and those who have mischief in mind, will be able to easily hide amongst us and do their damage.

This is a really sad day in American history. I am very worried for my country and quite frankly, I feel scared about being a voice of dissent.

Turtle49 said...

What makes anyone (for example, the ACLU) think that the judges will defend the Constitution or the public? It only took one vote at the Supreme Court to turn corporations into HIBUs (humanoid indigenous biological units) and open the floodgates of corporate money to influence/buy elections. I hear Alaska is a cold place to disappear. I prefer a mild dry climate and/or an alien (ET type) liberation.

Anne Lavoie said...


While you might be right about the Supreme Court being useless in protecting our due process rights in this matter, the decisions which led to corporate personhood actually stem from cases in 1819 and 1896. The current court was simply building on those decisions. Corporate power has been accruing for a long time thanks to them.

I suppose Obama will sign the legislation on the weekend, but no matter. Most of the media is totally ignoring it anyway.

Kat said...

I'm going to slightly derail this thread and perhaps provoke the ire of some readers by commenting on some NYT commenters. The eulogies for a certain militantly atheist war monger are making me gag.
Speaking of commenters-- thanks DreamsAmelia for speaking up about the script cards at Hospitals from a patient/family member perspective. I remember when there were rumblings of using these things and thinking how crass they were-- for both patient and nurse. I quit before I found out if they actually instituted them. And that was one of the reasons I quit. Money really has nothing to do with my dissatisfaction with the nursing profession.

DreamsAmelia said...

Kat, I was going to rant off-topic about the Times, too--Every morning, afresh, I mourn the loss of the old Times format. The gang is broken up, gone forever in this laughably ephemeral cyber-world. Obviously, many (most?) of the well-known commenters were in competition---but the readers, too, enjoyed the sport of it--really in a good-natured spirit--and those of out "out of the ring" were a bit perplexed at how high emotions ran from time to time--but isn't that what Camus, Sartre, Beauvoir, Hemingway, Gide, and others in the Parisian existential/philosophical circles had? It comes with the territory... Tired of even trying to hunt for Karen's comment on today's excellent Krugman rebuttal as to why all the "End the Fed" signs at #OWS are so wrong...

And I just want to rip my hair out with the idiotic "Times Picks", such as this one, re: NY nurse strike:

new york city

NYT Pick

I totally understand and respect nurses and know how hard they work and how difficult their job is but this is definitely not the time for a strike. Economically this country is in big trouble and so many people are out of work people who would give anything to have a job much less their job. So please right now is not the time to cry just take a look around you..

Dec. 15, 2011 at 5:26 p.m.


Ya know, Upton Sinclair wrote a little book about squalor in meat-packing industries. The "time was not right" then, either. Oh, wait a minute--it was!
The growth of unions from 1900 to the 30s are what led to increased sanitation, got rid of child labor, and brought us the 40-hour-work-week and weekends!

How many decades can you live in fear, in absolute poverty? No, the New York Times sees fit to reward the meek little worker who knows there's _never_ going to be a good time to form a union or strike, for an employer!

Bring back my favorite 20 Times commenters who could've outlined that in soaring prose, and I wouldn't be here! Argh!

DreamsAmelia said...

Oh--I keep forgetting--you have to click "oldest-newest" tabs---Great comment about the cult of Paul, Karen! Interesting idea that you can do a follow up to your own comment....

Zee said...


What are "script cards" in the context of hospitals? I can't find any other reference to them in the current thread.

Kat said...

script cards are little cards that you're supposed to carry around with phrases such as "I have time." (note: you never have time. That's the problem. Saying it does not make it true). Amelia is right-- they're totally dehumanizing for patient and nurse. Nobody needs to feel like a widget during one of the most vulnerable times in their life.
Yes, Amelia I read your response to that reader pick. Thanks for that one too.
These administrators are making mighty fine salaries at their non profit institutions. They are loathe to give it up. Don't fool yourself that concessions by nurses will translate into more care for patients.
Now I have to go hunt for Karen's rebuttal to Krugman's column. I look forward to reading it.

Kat said...

Okay-- read Karen's comment. All I had to do was click on reader's picks and there it was.
Good comment, but I would say that I prefer Paul's intellectually honest answer concerning insurance to anyone who advocates a voucher plan. At least the choice is made clear. Of course, I wouldn't pick Paul's choice.
I am not totally insensitive to Paul's argument that medicare has helped to drive up the cost of health care. But, this is because health care does not act like the free market! The explosion of specialists that was aided in part by the development of medicare did not drive down the costs of these specialists. Instead, specialists looked to expand their market. More care is not necessarily better care.
Sorry, Ron competition does not solve every problem.

Denis Neville said...

Glenn Greenwald’s response to Scott Horton’s question as to whether he thinks Obama is likely, in a second term, to take any meaningful steps against “elitist triumphalism” and “the emerging doctrine of impunity for politically powerful elites in the United States,” “particularly relating to accountability”:

“There is zero basis for believing that Obama will change course on any of these matters in his second term…If anything, it’s even more unlikely that he would hold elites accountable in his second term.”

The catnip in Obama’s Kansas speech “matters little,” because “Obama is in campaign mode, and what he has convincingly demonstrated is that the inspiring, passionate speeches he delivers have little relationship to his actions.”

John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s Magazine, says “President Obama Richly Deserves To Be Dumped”

He offers the example of Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota challenge against President Johnson over the issue of Vietnam. He hopes that McCarthy’s example might inspire someone to challenge O who has “forfeited the trust of the people.”

Anne Lavoie said...

I have some dots I'm connecting relating to our country being officially designated a battleground. This is outside the concern about Liberty and Justice. This has to do with Life.

We already know drones are all the rage for Congress' entitlement funding of the Military-Industrial Complex. So now that we are designated a battlefield, there will be increased justification for both funding and use of drones anywhere and everywhere in our own country. They are already being used, but as far as I know, only on a small scale currently.

And we already know from the national news media that drone software is infected with a virus that tracks keystrokes, and possibly a whole lot more. The military hasn't figured out a way to remove it.

We have seen two drones 'crashing' just in the last week. Iran claims they hacked and took control of one and landed it. The other 'crashed' in the Seychelles. Coincidentally, China just announced this week that it was "setting up its first military base abroad in the Seychelles to 'seek supplies and recuperate' facilities for its navy." I suppose the Chinese know a thing or two about hacking.

With more drones flying around our country soon, and given that they can be hacked and commandeered, they become potential weapons right here at home. They can potentially be crashed into whatever is selected as the target. The possibilities are endless, and would include the very bases they are launched from.

The only recourse the military would then have is to shoot down their own planes if they discover it in time. Can you imagine the cost and consequences of that, in the sky, on the ground, and to the budget? Sounds like a win for the war profiteers but a loss for everyone else.

This has the potential for great danger to us all right here at home, brought to us by our very own greedy, power-hungry, Fearful Leaders.

Keara said...

Karen, you are so gifted in terms of both intellect and style. It couldn't be said better than this:

"In the service of the never-ending and totally contrived War on Terror, the Writ of Habeas Corpus has been officially sacrificed on the altar of the New Security States of America."

When I was in law school 30 years ago, it was inconceivable that a law of this type could be passed. Now it doesn't even draw much of a reaction. There are lots of factors at work, of course, but I think the buying (and selling-out) of the media is the greatest.

Kat said...

I agree with you about the media. It is a huge problem-- as big as money and elections.

valerie said...

OK - I propose we start doing KG comment alerts, and state the article or author of the column - so readers like me, who usually don't bother with the Times unless there is a good commentariate - or those who only get a few freebies before the NYT charges - can go look for Karen's as well as Fred's and DreamsAmelia's comments. Do any of us bother to comment there anymore other than the above three?

@Kat - Which of Karen's comments were you refering to.

Elizabeth Adams said...

Nurses are the last line of defense in patient care. When I had to leave ER nursing because of latex allergy, they tried to steer me toward case management. To me, case management would have involved a lot of conflict of interest, and it wasn't for me.

I had to leave my union job in the hospital in order to go back to school, and since then I have been in a number of situations (such as being physically assaulted by a physician while trying to perform CPR) that would not have happened or would have had much different (and better) outcomes had I belonged to a union.

Attacking nurses is attacking patients, if you know what I mean.

And now for a joke.

A body washed up on the beach one day. They knew it was a nurse, because the bladder was full, the stomach was empty, and the butt was chewed.

Valerie said...


Agree with you on Hitchens. I never thought he was anything other than an intolerant (albeit highly intelligent) man. I never found him to be terribly interesting either. Thought you might be interested in this interview with Chris Hedges on Hitchens. I sounds like it was taped quite a while ago.!

Zee said...


Re: National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Marie Burns, over at Realty Chex, has provided a link to an op/ed piece by Adam Serwer at Mother Jones.

The article suggests that while still bad law, the NDAA does not give the power of indiscriminate and indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens to the President.

At least, not to the extent conveyed to us by the media.

I'm not lawyer enough to fully understand the implications of the actual legislation as written, so I have to go by what I'm told by those who can. For those of you who are similarly "legally impaired," you can read the Serwer article here:

Karen Garcia said...

The White House is pushing back hard against the negative reportage regarding this new law. The gist of what they are saying is that President Obama would never detain people indefinitely. If a bad president does comes along and use this vague law for nefarious purposes, the conventional wisdom now says, Congress can always tweak it, or undo it.
Serwer is a fine reporter, but he is not a lawyer. Glenn Greenwald is both a fine journalist and a lawyer, so I will trust him on the interpretation. Ditto for the ACLU, which is horrified.
Remember, Obama also has given himself the right to assassinate suspected terrorists. So detaining them is just one added perk.

Denis Neville said...

Serwer misreads the provisions.

Read Glenn Greenwald for a clearer legal understanding of these provisions.

“Myth #3: U.S. citizens are exempted from this new bill

“This is simply false…The bill is purposely muddled on this issue which is what is enabling the falsehood… Section 1021 contains a disclaimer regarding an intention to expand detention powers for U.S. citizens, but does so only for the powers vested by that specific section. More important, the exclusion appears to extend only to U.S. citizens “captured or arrested in the United States” — meaning that the powers of indefinite detention vested by that section apply to U.S. citizens captured anywhere abroad (there is some grammatical vagueness on this point, but at the very least, there is a viable argument that the detention power in this section applies to U.S. citizens captured abroad).”

“But the next section, Section 1022, is a different story… That section does not contain the broad disclaimer regarding U.S. citizens that 1021 contains. Instead, it simply says that the requirement of military detention does not apply to U.S. citizens, but it does not exclude U.S. citizens from the authority, the option, to hold them in military custody.”

“In sum, there is simply no question that this bill codifies indefinite detention without trial (Myth 1). There is no question that it significantly expands the statutory definitions of the War on Terror and those who can be targeted as part of it (Myth 2). The issue of application to U.S. citizens (Myth 3) is purposely muddled…and there is consequently no doubt this bill can and will be used by the U.S. Government (under this President or a future one) to bolster its argument that it is empowered to indefinitely detain even U.S. citizens without a trial.”

Zee said...

@Karen and @Denis Neville--

Thanks for the suggestion that I look at Greenwald's interpretation of the law. I did not know that he is a lawyer.

Thanks also for the link, @Denis, which will save me some search time.

Kat said...

Too funny! After I read about his passing I searched for "Chris Hedges on Christopher Hitchens"(as well as Terry Eagleton, actually).
I will concur that Greenwald is the best source for us non-lawyers to go to on these issues.

Denis Neville said...

Et tu Ron?

Charlie James, commenting on Krugman’s “Ron Wyden, Useful Idiot,” asks “how did Ron Wyden - who always struck me as a sensible if not especially progressive Demcoract - allow himself to be tricked into getting into bed with Paul Ryan in the first place?”

Why, Krugman asks, would anyone who isn’t a right-wing ideologue propose to degrade Medicare into a worse system” that kind of degradation?

Karen, anyone, answers to those questions?

Will the betrayals by supposed progressives ever end?

Neil said...

America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Bureau of Justice statistics show 2.3 million adults were incarcerated in the U.S. at year-end 2009, about 1% of all adults. The prison population has quadruped since 1980 in part due to mandatory sentencing and the war on drugs. So the NDAA does not surprise me. Long before the NDAA the government had ways to incarcerate and torture its citizens, many ways, including "cold-cell" torture and murder as described by

Attorney Matt Weidner of Florida decries the NDAA too, and has a post showing that the FBI, CIA and DOJ opposed the detention provisions for US citizens, but Barack Obama disregarded that opposition and favored the detention provisions for Americans.

Attorney Weidner says reading a blog post could fall under NDAA jurisdiction: "This of course is sheer, terrifying madness but the whole country is just sitting on the sidelines and letting this happen. But you’re all going to regret it….because the mere fact that you are reading this post, makes you a potential target of the broad new powers."

While its nice to see so many in opposition to NDAA, some are late to the party. Anonymous is right, and it bears repeating: "Folks, we're in a fascist nation now"

American fascism is corporatism, and delivered by the legal system through legislation. As an attorney, Obama is trained in how to deliver fascism through the legal system, along with corporate lawyers and lobbyists, and many liberal and conservative lawyer counterparts. For example, Lindsey Graham has a law degree, as do many of our legislators. Law school teaches the profession to think differently than nonlawyers; what us nonlawyers don’t understand makes perfect legal sense to Obama and all the other lawyers running our country.

Hitler's Thirty Days to Power cited by Fred shows how the unlikely dictator rose to power as a result of the times and his personality by supporters seeking a savor (much like Obama’s rise). But it was the nazi lawyers and legal system that legislated and legalized anti-Semitism, eugenics and what followed, through the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, the Nuremberg Laws, and others. And some of that law was based in part upon existing American law, such as the 1927 US Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), upholding Virginia law that authorized the involuntary sterilization of those in state custody deemed "hereditary imbeciles." Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ oft cited quote in the case was "Three generations of imbeciles are enough". Not only does this predate Nazi eugenics (1933-1945) by six years, American eugenics remained lawful until 1983, although the last known forced sterilization was 1978.

Without the cooperation of the legal profession, Hitler may have remained just another crazy loudmouth with a book to sell. In American corporate fascism, anti-Semitism is replaced with a war on the poor, working class, and middle class, the 99%.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Most Americans pay slight attention to what just happened. If enough citizens understood the implications of NDAA, traffic would halt for a minute of mourning at the moment Obama signs the bill into law.

Of all the betrayals of the past three years NDAA takes the prize. Summers, Geithner and Bernanke merely gave trillions of dollars no strings attached –- of other people’s money -- to prominent thieves. NDAA is more astounding; it strikes at the root of democracy. Its effects will run deeper and last longer than any drawn-out recession or class war. NDAA’s victims will become less than poor; they will become political prisoners.

By undermining key provisions of the Bill of Rights, NDAA threatens to kick us all the way back to the day of star chambers and dungeons.

Fools look to the White House for help in preserving the Bill of Rights. So much for that bully pulpit. In the US Senate only a diminished seven voted against NDAA, one of them Rand Paul (R-Ky). Et tu, Schumer? The strong voices for justice in the House are few and scattered and they command a smaller audience.

The booming voice of the MSM can no longer be counted on as a force defending the Constitution or advocating for the average American. Journalism is no longer a calling; it’s a business.

So what agency is left to wake the country from its stupor? Much as we would love to have millions of our fellow citizens checking in to blogs like Sardonicky and Greenwald and Truthdig, that ain't gonna happen. In recent months, of all the voices for justice, the ragtag OWS has proved the most influential in winning people over.

If all incumbents were, without exception, swept out of office, as suggested by a few commenters, the country would end up with a Republican in the White House and, very likely, a Republican Congress. There may be a case for sweet revenge in trading the brackish water of Democrats for the Kool-Aid of Republicans, but I’m not ready to drink that cup just yet.

There is a third option. Better than firing all incumbents like an angry Trump, we might actively support honest local candidates in one’s own district AND, at the national level, support a candidate like Rocky Anderson. Anderson has a record of acting forcefully for justice. The bully pulpit of an independent Third Party is the only one left of suitable dimension to counter the lies and silence taking us down the road to fascism.

Let us stipulate in advance that third parties never have and probably never will win the highest national offices. What they have done successfully again and again is to force reform on the two party system by indirection. When third parties get popular, the two major parties see the light and steal big hunks of the third party platform. I could live with that.

Here are your choices for 2012: brackish water (D); Kool-Aid (R); or a real chance at a very small cup of clean water (I).

Jay - Ottawa said...

Here's a tidbit from the latest "Harper's Weekly":

"Congress passed a $662 billion defense spending
bill that allows for indefinite detention of terror
suspects. "And when they say, 'I want my lawyer,'" said Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), "you tell them, 'Shut up. You don't get a lawyer.'"

Sen. Graham passed the bar exam after graduating from law school in 1981. When he was a congressman, he served on the House's Committee of the Judiciary. As a senator he serves on the Senate's Committee of the Judiciary. He is also an Air Force Colonel (Reserves) in the Judge Advocate General's Corps.