Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Why Unrestrained Executive Power is a Problem

Hi Folks,

Some people out there might be thinking that this secret spying issue is just a red herring. This is America after all and the government is only using these powers to go after suspected terrorists. If you aren't a pro-Al Qaida activist you don't have to worry. Right? Wrong! Friday's news included this revelation from MSNBC that the Defense Department has been spying on anti-war and pacifist groups in the United States including Quaker groups. That's right, the current administration thinks the Quakers are a threat a national security. The Quakers are in cahoots with Osama Bin Laden!? It's too absurd to even take seriously except that the DOD is spying on these citizens and in the context of Bush's doctrine of limitless executive power, this is as serious as a heart attack. And this isn't an isolated case of a legal group being put on a shit list by accident. NBC news sources show over 4 dozen cases like this including surveillance of a March 2005 anti-war protest in Los Angeles.

The data base includes references to monitored groups "exercising constitutional rights." Well gee. I'm glad we have the DOD's official OKEEDOKEE on this stuff. I was concerned. A benevolent tyrant is still a tyrant. A tyrant with self restraint is an unrestrained tyrant in the final analysis. The "Founding Fathers" had no illusions about the ability of people with limitless power to restrain themselves.

Anyone who just dismisses this as "business as usual" is wrong on so many levels it boggles the mind. They are the root of the problem. There will always be people who want a tyranny in place. They only succeed when people who should know better don't object.

13 comments:

US West said...

Well, DAH! Gee, thanks NBC for finally showing up. This type of thing was reported at the time it took place. It was reported in places like Democracy Now, The Nation, Common Cause, Common Dreams , Smoking Gun, etc. All those "crazy lefty" media outlets. Oh, but now it is all amazing news because NBC suddenly got on board. Where were they 3 years ago? Did they start drinking milk and growing spines all of the sudden? The fourth estate has spent 6 years under the Bush spell and NOW it wakes up!

Are we surprised that such things took place? Why should we be? The entire city of London is covered in cameras and they constantly scan crowds looking for potential suspects. I suppose Israel does the same thing, and may have even given us a few pointers. It's been done for years. Geeze, they did it in the 1960s with the anti-Vietnam protestors. We are just repeating the 60's and 70's all over again.

The big difference between tyrannies and democracies is that democracies have self-correcting mechanisms. The problem is that most Americans don't seriously believe their government can or would listen to them. And the people who speak out against such things are called "conspiracy theorists". We are all either too naïve or too distracted for our own good. We as citizens are paying enough attention to what our government is doing.

A friend of mine pointed out that there were something like 13,000 anti-war demonstrators in San Francisco back in 2003 and no one bothered to cover the story. He says," anymore, it's like we just sort of get to live here. It isn't like anyone is listening." I have to agree. Unless you are part of a tracking poll, no one listens. This is what technology has done. It has allowed political leaders to turn us into faceless masses who answer pollsters. The other night, I was called to take a poll about our local land use plan. The woman was calling me from Michigan and she couldn't pronounce half the names of the local communities. She hadn't ever heard of any of them and had no clue what the issue was she was polling about. This is what we are reduced to.

I have read that liberal think tanks and other non-profit orgs had their lines tapped and their e-mail monitored. There were those that argued against intelligence agencies at their inception because having them meant you had the capacity to use them incorrectly. So we built up controls that this Administration has contravened over and over. And the Administration has managed to silence all voices that would call it to task. It's as if someone in the capitol pricked their finger back in 2000 and the city went to sleep.

And it will continue. Bush has said that he will continue to let NSA listen in to Americans" for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al-Qaeda and related groups.” Well gee, how long do you supposed this will be?

 

// posted by USwest

Anonymous said...

WE have one more chance to wake up as a nation. Vote Democrat in 2006! A vote for a Democrat is a vote for Democracy! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Democracts have to quit acting Bumfuzzled and start talking about what National Security really means. It means protecting civil rights. It means increasing foreign aid because that helps create stable, friendly governments. It means engaging the world rather than battling it. THat is what national security is about. That message has to loud and clear. That needs to be our talking points. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

How the Democrats manage their political strategies and tactics are a seperate issue in my opinion. The stakes are so high now, that we should all vote for anyone who stands up and says they aren't a Republican or Bush supporter.

I don't think you're suggesting this but I'm increasingly annoyed at people who say they oppose Bush on every particular issue but use the public image of Democrats as clueless (an image largely exagerated by the press) as an excuse for either not voting at all or voting for Bush anyway.

Bumfuzzled or not, they're our only hope! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

And another thing: I think people don't demonstrate because they think someone else will solve the problem. It gets back to warnings about complacency.

This is part of the problem with representative government. You delegate authority to someone else, which is necessary. But then you have to hope they have the public trust in mind.

I agree that you have to toss Republicans out. But not all the Republicans are bad. And I think what you really have to do is scrutinze the individuals. You need people who have the notion of service and public trust high in the priority list. At the moment, I am not sure who the "good guys" are anymore. Democrats voted blindly to give authorization to an irresponsible president with an irresponsible administration. And the fact that he is irresponsible and not to be trusted was evident from the get go. So I am really having a hard time with the "vote all democrats" into office approach. The democrats have to show me that they deserve to govern and have a plan to address the injustices that have taken place on their watch.
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

In the wake of 9/11, the Patriot act was passed. That was a mistake, but understandable. In 2002, Democrats voted to give the president the authority to go to war in Iraq, precisely because the PResident argued that if the Congress gave him that authority, he would not need to use it. Nobody voted to give the President dictatorial powers, as he has now assumed. I don't give a rat's ass if he "reauthorizes" himself to spy on us every 45 days or every morning. No man is above the law. Bush must be impeached. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

All Republicans are the problem - for the moment. Arlen Specter might be an example of an individual that US West regards as less of a problem than say, Bush himself. OK, perhaps he is, taken on his own in issolation. But so long as even self-declared moderate or - dare I say it - "thoughtfull" Republicans continue to support and obey their more radical leaders, they are just as much of a problem as the leaders themselves.

The only thing permitting Bush to do these things with relative impunity is his narrow partisan majority in both houses. Party line voting protects Bush. There are simply not enough Republican willing to defy their leadership yet for us to be able to afford open minds about party identification.

If you live in a district represented by a Republican - no matter how much you may like your local represenative - you owe it to your country to vote for his or her Democratic opponent. You can always vote Republican again in six, four or even two years. Hopefully by then investigations will have exposed this mess to the full light of day. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

The proper way to conduct a democracy cannot be a partisan issue. Poilcy can be a partisan issue. But the fundamentals of our government cannot be. If it is, then we are in deeper trouble than we realize. 

// posted by USwest

Anonymous said...

The issue of democracy and liberty has become a partisan issue. I've been saying that since before 2004. It's why I'm so freaked about about the GD GOP. This is NOT my father's GOP. It's not my Grandfaters' GOP either. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Then we all agree that we are in some seriously deep dodo. This is why I keep mentioning dialogue on fundamental issues. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

But dialogue with who I wonder and to what end?

What I fear is that opening up the Constitution and American democracy in general for renegotiation will not result in a more democratic system. On the contrary, anything other than firm committment to the Constitution we've got will - under the current political circumstances - result in a permanent reduction of liberty. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

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