- I've decided to start carrying a toothbrush.
- Incredibly, we've reached that point in America where,
thanks to a bunch of spineless traitors in Congress (Republicans and Democrats),
it is only a matter of time before the state begins rounding up people
like me and whisking us off to dark cells without telling anyone.
- Congress, with almost no discussion, has just approved
a law ostensibly about authorizing military tribunals for alleged terrorists
which actually went way beyond that bad enough end run on the Constitution,
to include giving the president the congressional sanction to torture
captives and, as well, the power to snatch up any American citizen and
declare her or him to be an "unlawful combatant," devoid of
- Such a victim of presidential whim or pique could be
shuttled off to a gulag anywhere in the world, or to Guantanamo Bay, or
to a military installation somewhere in the U.S. (Or perhaps to that mysterious
concentration camp reportedly being constructed in secret somewhere in
the U.S. by Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subsidiary of VP Cheney's company,
Haliburton.) Nobody, not even family members, would have to be notified
of this capture and detention. No lawyer would be called.
- This, sad to say, is America today, courtesy of your
elected representatives, a majority of whom have violated their oaths
of office to uphold and defend the Constitution. Our nation has become
a place that the revolutionists of 1776 would easily recognize, not as
the country they brought into being, but rather as a reprise of the tyrannical
colonial British rule that they struggled to break free from.
- Under the guidelines President Bush is using for the
made-up term "unlawful combatant," anyone who is said to be giving
aid to terrorists (a very slippery term itself, which has been used to
describe everyone from a lone bomber to the elected presidents of Iran
and Venezuela) could be subjected to secret, indefinite detention without
charge, and to torture as well.
- Such "aid" could be an innocent donation of
money to a charity that, unknown to the donor, turned out to somehow be
providing funds to an organization associated with a terrorist organization.
A Christian charity that donates some of its funds to an Iranian state
orphanage might easily if inadvertently fit that bill. Writing an article
critical of the Bush administration's hoked up "war" on terror
(like this one here), could qualify the author for arrest, too. Certainly
a piece I wrote for The Nation magazine's online edition last week, disclosing
that the Bush administration had pushed forward deployment to the Iran
Theater of an aircraft carrier battle group by a month in preparation for
a probable attack on Iran before Election Day could pass the terrorist-aid
- Likewise a report by Time Magazine reporters the same
week revealing that Navy personnel had received "prepare to deploy"
orders to be ready to sail a fleet of minesweepers to the Persian Gulf
on October 1, also in preparation for war against Iran.
- Once Bush begins really using his new gift from Congress
of dictatorial powers of arrest without charge and detention without trial,
the brigs of the country's military bases will begin to fill with journalists,
anti-war activists and little old ladies who gave to the wrong charity.
- Make no mistake. This is going to happen unless this
catastrophic sell-out bill passed into law by Congress is repealed or
declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, because history has made
it crystal clear that powers made available are powers used.
- The less popular this president becomes--and he deservedly
ranks right down there with the most unpopular leaders of all time--the
more desperate he will be, particularly because he has already committed
so many offenses against this nation and against the Constitution that
his impeachment by a Democratic Congress is increasingly probable.
- We are at a critical moment in American history.
- With the passage of the new anti-terrorism bill, Election
Day on November 7 could well be the last chance for the American people
to reassert their faith in the Constitution that our Founding Fathers and
the blood of tens of thousands of revolutionary soldiers provided us with
over 200 years ago.
- It is, at this point, imperative that the voters of
this country think strategically, forget petty ideological differences
and intellectual debates over whether or not the Democratic Party can
ever be reformed, and simply vote for the Democrat in every election district.
Even the cowardly Democrats who supported the terror bill must be returned
to office, I'm afraid (we can deal with them later).
- The key is to gain a Democratic Party majority in both
houses of Congress, and to remove the rubber stamp Republican Party from
- As nauseating as it may be to find one's self voting
for the likes of Texas Rep. Chet Edwards or Illinois Rep. Melissa Bean
(two of 34 Democratic representatives who joined Republicans in voting
for the terrorism bill), it is nonetheless crucial that both be re-elected
so that Democrats can add at least 15 seats to their total in the House
and take over control of that institution. Ditto in the Senate. A Bob
Casey may be pro-Iraq War and anti-abortion, but if he is not elected to
replace Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, there is no chance Democrats
will retake control of the U.S. Senate in November.
- Now I know the idea of voting for Democrats--especially
Democrats who have voted wrong on the war, wrong on torture, wrong on
giving the president dictatorial powers--is both sickening and seemingly
contradictory for those who feel the party has consistently betrayed its
own constituency, but with this last law we've crossed a Rubicon. We are
in a police state when there is no longer habeas corpus and when even
the Congress is saying that the president and the "Justice" Department
can start locking people up in military prisons without the right to bring
the case to a court. Heck, at this rate, after November, we may not even
have another election. That makes voting for Third Party candidates kind
of pointless, doesn't it? Basically, I'd say we've got a shot this November
at stopping the coup, and we need to grab it. It might not work, but I'm
betting most of those Democrats who shamelessly voted yes on the terrorism
bill did it because they thought they needed to vote that way to win this
election. They may be wrong (and I may be wrong), but the simple equation
is--vote your conscience in those districts, and the Republicans keep
in control in Congress and the police state grows in strength; ignore your
conscience, vote for lame Democrats, and the Republicans lose Congress
and we have at least a chance of stopping this march to totalitarianism.
It's really that simple.
- Certainly a Democratic Congressional victory on Election
Day will not herald a return to some 1960s liberal America, or even a
Clintonian pseudo-liberal era, much less to a new New Deal, and nobody
should be under such an illusion. But it would be a major defeat for the
Bush dictatorship, as a Democratic Congress could be expected to begin
seriously investigating Bush administration crimes, could start to undo
the creeping coup that has been eroding American democracy and long-held
democratic freedoms, and could protect us from being saddled with yet
another pro-authoritarian Supreme Court justice. (For that to happen,
given the lame nature of the Democratic Party, will require a powerful
mass movement through the course of the next two years, after Election
- Meanwhile, just in case, I'm carrying that toothbrush.
I care too much about the health of my gums and about keeping my teeth
to want to lose them to a period of military detention.