Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Light of Freedom

On July, 1776, the Continental Congress lit the light of freedom for all mankind. Later, thirteen former colonies ratified a Constitution that promised an effective and democratic government based on democratic theory. That document left some major problems unresolved. So the first Congress of the United States approved twelve amendments and sen them to the states. Of these, ten were ratified and became the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution with the Bill of Rights sustained our nation through the early years of weakness when there were many threats from European powers. The Constitution sustained us through the Civil War and through the two great wars of the twentieth century.

We Americans have enjoyed and cherished the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Some of ancestors have fought and died or these freedoms -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to a fair trial. Later amendments added more rights such as the abolition of slavery.

To be true, there have been abuses from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1801, through Jim Crow, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II, to the Smith Act of the 1950's. Although the Ship of State has been blown on her beams, she has always righted herself.

But now in the twenty-first century, the light of freedom is going out. We are told that we are facing a crisis, much worse than the two World Wars, much worse than the Civil War, that is forcing us to abandon the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Today the president can declare anyone an 'illegal enemy combatant' for any reason, or for no reason at all, then we all have lost our right to a fair trial. When the president denies any role of the courts in these matters, we all have lost our right to 'due process', we all have lost our right to trial by jury, we all have lost our right to confront the evidence against us, we have all lost out right to legal representation. When the CIA or the armed forces can beat and torture anyone, we all have lost our right against self-incrimination. We all have lost our moral compass.

The president can nullify any law be writing a 'signing statement'. He has done so more than 700 times. Is Congress so bad that it has passed 700 unconstitutional laws? This is how Congress has been reduced to Bush's lap dog. It is the 'broken branch'.And when the president wants a law, he made one up. This is how we got military tribunals. This is how the president 'takes care that the laws be faithfully executed'.

The president insists that being 'commander in chief' gives him the unfettered authority to kidnap people all over the world, to engage in torture, and to set up military tribunals, and to ignore the Geneva conventions, all in violation of the 'supreme law of the land'. This is how the president acceeds to the Congressional power to 'make rules for the government of the land and naval forces'.

There is no Congress worthy of the name. Actually, the best Congress that money can buy has shown an amazing readiness to lay on its back in the missionary position. And when the courts take five years to act, justice is truly denied. There is no law but presidential fiat. Julius Caesar used his legions to overthrow the Roman Republic. George Bush doesn't have to use the army to overthrow the Constitution. He uses signing statements. He turns Congress into a rubber stamp with earmarks and money from lobbyists. He uses selective denials of the right to vote and fearmongering to create a supine electorate. This is how the president 'upholds and defends the constitution'.

The new litmus test is whether a person gives 'material aid go terrorism', whatever that means. Lawers and jurists will be spending countless hours and millions of dollars in trying to figure out what this means. 'Material aid' is like pornography. It means whatever you want it to mean. Years and years in the future it may be thrown out by the Supreme Court as 'unconstitutional vague'. But that will be scant comfort to those incarcerated this junk charge. How many grandmothers will be imprisioned for contributing money to an Islamic charity?

I hope to see a rebirth of Constitutional government. The nation needs to restore its faith in our founding principles -- freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Above all we need to restore the Bill of Rights -- so battered in the past five years. This is the better way to fight terrorism. We need to reaffirm the faith of our ancestors in constitutional government.

To the Constitution: It shall be preserved!

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