Happy Dictatorship Day

The prize for the headline of the year goes to today’s Washington Post for the following gem:

Many Rights in U.S. Legal System Absent in New Bill

The Post article on the military tribunal bill the Senates passed yesterday  details some of the legal and procedural rights that people seized as “enemy combatants” will not possess.  (Amnesty International has a good summary of the bill here).

The Post article gives the impression that only aliens have to fear being treated  slightly better than East Bloc dissidents. But as a superb piece in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times by law professor Bruce Ackerman noted, the legislation “authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.”

When I clicked on the “print” version of the “absent rights” article, the page on the Washington Post website included a hefty ad:  “Helping to Deliver Air Dominance for the U.S. – the Lockheed Martin – Boeing – Pratt Whitney – F-22 Raptor.” 

Who the hell needs civil liberties when we have “air dominance”?


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34 Responses to Happy Dictatorship Day

  1. lawhobbit September 29, 2006 at 10:46 am #

    Wheeeee, I get to make the first comment! I’ll tell ya, given a choice between a musty old parchment talking about quartering soldiers in homes, hunting rifles, and some rights that they don’t use anyway vs. nifty kewl supersonic bomb and missile tossing death machines that are Extra Manly as they are used to Defend America, I know where Duh Average Voter is going to come down.

    Oh, and Happy Dictator Day to you, too, Jim. May all your goosestepper be perfectly aligned and I hope the Santa Fuehrer drops a little something extra in the jackboot you’ve got nailed over the fireplace!

  2. Jim September 29, 2006 at 10:55 am #

    As a former Santa Claus (Massachusetts branch of the Amalgamated Nick Union), I am prohibited from hanging anything over the fireplace except wet clothing and out-of-service bandoliers.

    But I appreciate the thought.

  3. kirk hayes September 29, 2006 at 10:57 am #

    The imperial empire can now legally turn on its own citizens.

    Hail Bushus Caesar the Great!

    The devolution of America to amerika continues.

    What will ultimately be the shocker in this whole scenario is the supine acceptance of this and other usurpations of our rights.

    Kirk Hayes

  4. Jim September 29, 2006 at 11:03 am #

    I’d be a lot more shocked if the body politic did something more than grunt and roll over in response to the latest boarhawging.

  5. Alpowolf September 29, 2006 at 11:17 am #

    Well, I’ll be sent to Gitmo for sure. I have bad knees so I don’t goosestep very well; I’m sure that will be more than sufficient “proof” for some Madame Defarge from “Free” “Republic” to denounce me.

  6. Jim September 29, 2006 at 11:24 am #

    Good ol’ Free Republic!

    Ah yes… they were so passionate about civil liberties late in the last century.

    Amazing to see how many conservatives have responded to Bush’s machinations by taking up pitchforks and torches.

  7. Sean September 29, 2006 at 11:30 am #

    Remember when we were all worried about the Democrats taking away our rights?

    Thanks a lot GOP, as Frank Zappa would say: “Dumb all over yes we are…”

  8. lawhobbit September 29, 2006 at 11:31 am #

    Yeah, well, they got real passionate about mercantilism and fascism, too – and those are so much more remunerative to the powers that be than mere civil liberties…those are soooo 20th Century, ya know.

  9. Jim September 29, 2006 at 11:43 am #

    Sean – after what Congress just did to the Bill of Rights – “Camarillo Brillo” might be Zappa’s most timely song…

  10. Scott September 29, 2006 at 1:00 pm #

    The best part is how no one even cares.

    Habeas Corpus? That’s a funny sounding word. Who cares what it means? End of the Republic? What’s a Republic? Well, gotta go to work now…

  11. Jim September 29, 2006 at 1:06 pm #

    I would expect that, if the multiple choice question was phrased deftly, at least 20% of Americans would assert that “habeas corpus” is a type of venereal disease, though usually not fatal.

  12. Richard Clements September 29, 2006 at 1:37 pm #

    “Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deception.” -Niccolo Machiavelli

  13. Ryan September 29, 2006 at 2:17 pm #


    A Very Happy Dictatorship Day back at you. To commerate this wonderful day of once again, “freedom on the march”, I share this little gem from history with you and the readers. I have to admit when I read it I burst out in laughter over the irony of it all. It looks like Santanya was right.

  14. MarkN September 29, 2006 at 2:37 pm #

    Remember, remember the 28th of September
    The torturous congressional plot.
    I see no reason why Congress’s treason
    Should ever be forgot.

  15. Jim September 29, 2006 at 2:48 pm #

    I finally watched “V for Vendetta” last night.

    That is one helluva movie.

  16. Jim September 29, 2006 at 2:53 pm #

    Ryan – thanks for the link – Here’s the headline of that timely story:

    “1965 : Hanoi announces that downed pilots will be treated as war criminals

    Hanoi publishes the text of a letter it has written to the Red Cross claiming that since there is no formal state of war, U.S. pilots shot down over the North will not receive the rights of prisoners of war (POWs) and will be treated as war criminals.

    The U.S. State Department protested, but this had no impact on the way the American POWs were treated and most suffered extreme torture and other maltreatment while in captivity.”

    I wonder if the North Vietnamese Communist Party had some senior dignitaries who strutted in public about whether torture was a good idea – before finally joining the party and going along for the ride.

  17. John S September 29, 2006 at 3:44 pm #

    I don’t usually post here, but I have to say a few words about today. I hope these sentiments are overblown, but we will see.

    The terrorists have one their first real victory today. The US Congress has officially removed some of the liberties that the Founding Fathers thought were so important they enshrined them into law and into the fabric of this society. Now those liberties are gone and the greatest part of the USofA is a thing of the past. I’m just glad my father, who fought in 3 wars to protect those liberties, isn’t alive to see this.

    To all of the Bush supporters, congrats! you have won a great victory for tyranny and despotism, LONG LIVE King George!

    And all int he name of safety. There was a time when being free was more important than being safe, but that was before fear took the reigns of power and destoyed the dream of once proud and great people.

    I am truly ashamed of my government and those who support it. They are cowards all, afraid to live free, afraid to die free, now we will all suffer

  18. Tom Blanton September 29, 2006 at 4:53 pm #

    What’s the problem, people? Bush is doing the Lord’s work and protecting us from evil doers that hate us because we are good. Anyway, a good American who has nothing to hide shouldn’t object to having his home raided in the middle of the night by friendly government agents who take you to a nice facility and torture you a little bit for a few years. That’s better than being terrorized isn’t it?

  19. Johnny Deterick September 29, 2006 at 5:17 pm #

    Happy Dictatorship Day to you, Jim! I tell ya, I just don’t know whether to laugh or to cry when I see so much apathy toward such open tyranny. I mean, it’s not as if The Decider-in-Chief hadn’t said that he would mind a dictatorship, with him as the dictator.

  20. Johnny Deterick September 29, 2006 at 5:23 pm #


  21. aussie bob September 29, 2006 at 5:56 pm #

    You poor poor Americans, why you must be just the most miserable people on earth, having to suffer so much injustice.

    Yet you’re also to blame for all the world’s problems too, right?

    Victims and bullies at the same time. Wait I’m trying to figure this out.

    Maybe its like musical chairs, whoever is stuck with the hot potato hets the blame, right?

    And like the Suhartos in Indonesia, the Bush family are leaders for life, yes? So which member of the Bush family will be next dictator?

    But they might vote for Hillary Clinton? Won’t that mess up all the conspiracy theories?

  22. Jim September 29, 2006 at 6:00 pm #

    Johnny – if you go and quote Bush out of context, you might be classified as an co-belligerent, along with other hostile entities like people who phone in to public radio auto advice programs.

    Ya, Bush said a couple times that it would be easier if he were a dictator.

    I guess the Republican Party paid attention to that, even if it did not pay attention to all the FBI memos about torture at Gitmo or Gen. Fay’s report about US torture in Iraq.

  23. Jim September 29, 2006 at 6:05 pm #

    Aussie Bob – you greatly underestimate the creativity of the conspiracy theorists.

    Bushes as Suhartos… That’s a charming thought for a Friday evening.

  24. edwin September 29, 2006 at 6:09 pm #


    And a Happy Dictatorship Day to you to!

  25. Jim September 29, 2006 at 6:38 pm #

    Edwin – that’s great!

    Monty Python is the perfect tonic for a time like this.

    If the US govt is going to be torturing, at least Americans can be positive thinkers.

  26. Turbostang September 29, 2006 at 6:59 pm #

    Sheesh! And to think I was actually labeled a Stalinist in the past by some people in the pro-Bush camp for my anti-war/pro-constitution stance. It’s just a matter of time folks.

  27. Victor Anderson September 29, 2006 at 9:00 pm #

    YANK FREE: Alternative Sunshine Government of We the (sovereign) People of these United States (credit also to those other Americans to the south)!

  28. Jim September 29, 2006 at 11:32 pm #

    Turbostang – Since they already know that you are a repeat ideological offender, then you have nothing left to lose.

    It may be entertaining to watch the contortions of Bush’s defenders in the coming weeks & months. On the other hand, they haven’t been hobbled by scruples since the 2001 holiday season.

  29. Chris September 29, 2006 at 11:56 pm #

    I am in the Air Force. I joined shortly before 9/11 while I was still in college. At the time I was one of Bush’s staunchest supporters…I was all for rounding up those who “terrorize us” and making sure others thought like myself. After I graduated and went to my technical training I started reading libertarian literature, especially along the lines of Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, Epstein, Friedman, etc. I quickly came to realize how wrong I had been. Govt is the problem, not those who disagree. As I have continued to serve in the Air Force, and will for the foreseeable future, I continue to grow in my anger against the administration for using the military as its own weapon for empire-building. I cannot begin to tell you how many folks in the military HATE the terror wars and the way things are going. People are getting out of the military left and right because the history of my father’s generation is playing out in mine. It is not as bad as the media portrays, it is worse! The Congress bowing to George II makes me even more sick.

    What are freedom-loving, authority-distrusting Americans to do?

  30. Frank Elwell September 30, 2006 at 12:52 am #

    Many comentators and writers claim that the rights of US citizens have been abrogated by some act of Congress. This is not possible. The U.S. Constitution cannot be altered by legislation. The manner of changing the Constitution is clearly spelled-out and no alternatives are given. 16 Am. Jur. 2nd, Sec. 177 late 2nd, Sec.256 States: “No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no court is bound to enforce it”. We are living under a lawless order and what rules is ‘who has the biggest club’. (‘Club’? Perhaps ‘money’ is a club.) I am not saying that a citizen cannot be abused under present conditions and have no recourse to lawful procedure. They certainly can because each of us has only a very small club. Too bad citizens! If there was a leader who could put all these ‘small clubs’ together, we would have a chance. but we have lost to a nation that exists within our nation. No one paid attention and I doubt that many know which nation this is.


  31. Johnny Deterick September 30, 2006 at 7:37 am #

    For Aussie Bob:

    Dictatorships are not especially hereditary in their nature; that’s what monarchies generally accomplish. And if we do get Hillary and if she uses Bush’s new “powers,” which she will have inherited by precedent, then, yeah, we’ll have a problem with that, too. This is, after all, a matter of constitutional principle, not a partisan pissing match, as much as the Republicans have worked to make it partisan.

    As for the bullies and victims thing, I can only assume that you do not understand that this blog is a forum for those who dissent to U.S. foreign policy. I dunno, maybe you Aussies have achieved complete unanimity on political matters and just can’t conceive of dissent.

  32. Jim September 30, 2006 at 10:10 am #

    Chris – Hayek & Mises are great sources of light in these times.

    Good luck in the Air Force. Hopefully peace will break out sooner than we expect.

  33. Jim September 30, 2006 at 10:13 am #

    Frank – I agree that an act of Congress cannot nullify a constitutional right. And it was not the Constituition which created those rights. Instead, the politicians of the late 1700s were compelled to admit that the rights were pre-existing – else the stalwart Americans of those times would likely not have tolerated the creation of the federal government.

  34. Jim September 30, 2006 at 2:32 pm #

    Here is the best summary I have seen on the nuts-and-bolts of the torture compromise legislation: