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graeme

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The death of American democracy

On, I know. I'm anti-American and I'm a 'liberal', possibly even 'leftist' - whatever all those words mean.

So why should you believe me that Obama will officially be ending civil rights, the rule of law, and democracy when he signs the new bill giving the military the right to imprison people one suspicion, without charge or trial? I mean - why should you believe an avowed leftie?

So google American Thinker for Dec. 20.  American Thinker is an American journal of the right, the far right, the journal for people who think Newt Gingrich is a leftie. See what it says about the new legislation.

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EasternOrthodox's picture

EasternOrthodox

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I wouldn't call it the death of American democracy (since it will affect only a very few people), but this bill is definitely not one of their better ideas.  I will reprint that NYT op-ed on the topic:

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/opinion/guantanamo-forever.html?scp=5&...

 

December 12, 2011

Guantánamo Forever?

 

IN his inaugural address, President Obama called on us to “reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” We agree. Now, to protect both, he must veto the National Defense Authorization Act that Congress is expected to pass this week.

 

This budget bill — which can be vetoed without cutting financing for our troops — is both misguided and unnecessary: the president already has the power and flexibility to effectively fight terrorism.

 

One provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge people suspected of involvement with terrorism, including United States citizens apprehended on American soil. Due process would be a thing of the past. Some claim that this provision would merely codify existing practice. Current law empowers the military to detain people caught on the battlefield, but this provision would expand the battlefield to include the United States — and hand Osama bin Laden an unearned victory long after his well-earned demise.

 

A second provision would mandate military custody for most terrorism suspects. It would force on the military responsibilities it hasn’t sought. This would violate not only the spirit of the post-Reconstruction act limiting the use of the armed forces for domestic law enforcement but also our trust with service members, who enlist believing that they will never be asked to turn their weapons on fellow Americans. It would sideline the work of the F.B.I. and local law enforcement agencies in domestic counterterrorism. These agencies have collected invaluable intelligence because the criminal justice system — unlike indefinite military detention — gives suspects incentives to cooperate.

 

Mandatory military custody would reduce, if not eliminate, the role of federal courts in terrorism cases. Since 9/11, the shaky, untested military commissions have convicted only six people on terror-related charges, compared with more than 400 in the civilian courts.

 

A third provision would further extend a ban on transfers from Guantánamo, ensuring that this morally and financially expensive symbol of detainee abuse will remain open well into the future.Not only would this bolster Al Qaeda’s recruiting efforts, it also would make it nearly impossible to transfer 88 men (of the 171 held there) who have been cleared for release. We should be moving to shut Guantánamo, not extend it.

 

Having served various administrations, we know that politicians of both parties love this country and want to keep it safe. But right now some in Congress are all too willing to undermine our ideals in the name of fighting terrorism. They should remember that American ideals are assets, not liabilities.

 

Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar are retired four-star Marine generals.

 

graeme's picture

graeme

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I won't affect only a few people. It will affect the whole society. It is a cancellation of all that the American revolution was fought for. It is a cancellation of human rights. The whole purpose is to give the military and the police a free rein. There is almost no free speech in the US as it is. This will finish the last of it. And that is what it is intended to to.

This is not simply a silly law. As American society collapses, we are watching it's democracy collapse along with it. There has been no event in history as big as this over the past century.

People will not grasp what it is that has happened. But Big Brother is here. Leading politicians are already suggesting that anyone who criticizes the government is contributing to terrorism. This is not a new law. This is a new world, and a damned ugly one.

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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The American Civil Liberties Union seemed to think that the administration was against it and would veto it.  Another blogger named Stephen Lendeman seemed to be trying to say that the worst parts of the bill had their origination in the administration.  This,of course, could just be political cover for its actual authors in Congress and an attempt to garner support emanating from the "support the course being set by the president (no matter what your personal views may be)" sentiment that is so commonly encountered in the US.  I like the ACLU's version better and can't really see that the administration supports this or would allow it.  

 

The ACLU article is at: http://www.aclu.org/indefinite-detention-endless-worldwide-war-and-2012-national-defense-authorization-act

 

To me this looks like another attempt by the right to 'wrong-foot" Obama by passing legislation that he must veto so that they can argue that he is "soft on terrorists" (and does not sufficiently support the military).

 

Here is a NY Times column which does a good job of explaining the National Defence Authorization Act and how and why it was originated.

http://loyalopposition.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/president-obama-veto-the-defense-authorization-act/?src=tp

 

Forbes magazine (not exactly a bastion of left wing thought) hates this bill and argues strongly in its blog for a veto by the president

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/12/05/the-national-defense-authorization-act-is-the-greatest-threat-to-civil-liberties-americans-face/

 

I feel that this legislation will be vetoed but on the other hand I never thought Americans would actually re-elect Nixon either, so I've been dead wrong before.  Later, ignoring the famous wisdom of H.L. Menken, I was sure the American public could not possibly so stupid as to elect a meathead like Ronald Reagan.  I thought, too, that Americans would overwhelmingly embrace Al Gore's intelligence but instead they found him boring and elected George "Dubya"  Bush.  Let's hope I'm right on this one.  

 

 

 

 

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.  - H. L. Mencken

RitaTG's picture

RitaTG

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I watch American politics with horror......

I limit my travel there as I am truely worried about how I may be treated if I got caught up in their legal system for some reason.

My mind boggles at some of the attitudes there.

I often wonder what the word freedom actually means to them.

I have asked several Americans and the answers are typically quite strange.   The most prevalent immediate reply is something about the need to defend it rather than what it is.   When asked to focus on defining what freedom really means the answers become more vague and they get more uncomfortable.

I worry for my southern neighbours....

Rita

graeme's picture

graeme

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Obama has publicly announced he will sign the bill into law.

graeme's picture

graeme

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Obama has publicly announced he will sign the bill into law.

RitaTG's picture

RitaTG

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How very very sad ... I am shocked and very disappointed in him....

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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H.L. Mencken ... 4

Qwerty ................0

qwerty's picture

qwerty

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Although this legislation has not much to do with justice, I suppose, still, there is some measure of justice in the fact that the citizens of the U.S.A. will be as liable to be prejudiced by the fears and suspicions of the U.S. military and intelligence community as the citizens of the world will be.  Had they "fixed" the bill then it might only have been the citizens of foreign nations who would be subject to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment under the auspices of the U.S. military.

EasternOrthodox's picture

EasternOrthodox

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I don't understand why he didn't veto it.

graeme's picture

graeme

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1. Obama is financed by Wall St. He always has been. He has represented Walll St. from the beginning. That's why, at the height of his pre-election popularity, I wrote in these posts that he was going to prove a  huge disappointment.

2. Wall St. is terrified of the prospect of social disintegration and civil disorder - even revolution. That's what the bill is aimed at. Terrorism has nothing to do with it.

As I have tried to say many times, we are watching the fall of the last, western empire. It is desperate. It's armies have been ineffective for the last sixty years. Even in World War Two, The defeat of Germany and Japan took far longer than the military had expected - and longer than they should have. And as we are now seeing, the long war in Afhghanistan can gain nothing; and the victory in Iraq is starting to fall apart.

The US is desperate. It needs military supreriority to control world markets. And its military, for all  its sophistican and massive power, cannot defeat small and poor third-world countries.

The era that began with Christopher Columbus is coming to an end.

Pilgrims Progress's picture

Pilgrims Progress

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Sadly, I agree with you, Graeme........

Those that have will fight to keep what they have - and it will get very ugly indeed.

 

I am ashamed of my country's stance on refugees and asylum seekers.....

As a nation we fight in Iraq and Afghanistan - and then  do what we can to stop folks from war-torn countries and those suffering from malnutrition coming to our country.

 

The amount Aussies have spent on their kids this year for Christmas buying the latest i-bloody-thingies is obscene, IMO.

 

America's democracy is dying - but so too is Australia's - and probably Canada's.

 

And we as nations are responsible.

Not just the corporations and big business and politicians - but the man in the street.

Greed and self-interest have replaced a fair go for all.

 

We turn a blind eye until those that we know are affected - shopping away on our pieces of plastic.......

We mouth platitudes, go to church, and keep shopping.......

 

We've got religion - but somewhere down the line we lost our souls.....

EasternOrthodox's picture

EasternOrthodox

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graeme wrote:

1. Obama is financed by Wall St. He always has been. He has represented Walll St. from the beginning. That's why, at the height of his pre-election popularity, I wrote in these posts that he was going to prove a  huge disappointment.

I don't doubt the Dems got plenty of cash from Wall St, but it is not clear what this has to do with this bill.  WSJ has barely reported on it, they seem uninterested.  That is, they think their readers are uninterested in it.  Their readers, the people in the corporations and businesses--it is the job of WSJ to bring them timely and important news.  Apparently, they don't think this is a high priority.  I will keep an eye out for more stories on it in WSJ, however.

graeme wrote:

2. Wall St. is terrified of the prospect of social disintegration and civil disorder - even revolution. That's what the bill is aimed at. Terrorism has nothing to do with it.

As I have tried to say many times, we are watching the fall of the last, western empire. It is desperate. It's armies have been ineffective for the last sixty years. Even in World War Two, The defeat of Germany and Japan took far longer than the military had expected - and longer than they should have. And as we are now seeing, the long war in Afhghanistan can gain nothing; and the victory in Iraq is starting to fall apart.

The US is desperate. It needs military supreriority to control world markets. And its military, for all  its sophistican and massive power, cannot defeat small and poor third-world countries.

The era that began with Christopher Columbus is coming to an end.

Well, I have my doubts it is quite that bad.  But who can argue about what MIGHT happen?  No one.  So all I can say, is that I disagree with this very negative slant.  

 

I think this bill is an over-reaction to 9/11.  LIke the passport thing for Canadians.  What does the passport thing have to do with social disintegration or civil disorder?  Nothing, but it does help them track people, which they are obsessed with due to 9/11.

sighsnootles's picture

sighsnootles

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i'm not sure that its a good idea to go to the us anymore either, rita...

graeme's picture

graeme

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I quite agree that it is not a good idea.

Remember the government reaction to Vietnam protests. Remember the turning of militia troops loose. The Vietnam protests were small stuff compared ot what is coming.

Obama just raised the largest campaign fund in world history. The books on it are public knowledge. The money came largely from banks and other financial institutions. It's not a secret. Obama is their boy. So far, he's been very, very good to them.

They need military dominance in the world to protect and expand their financial empire. Thus the endless wars. Do you seriously think they bombed Libya for humanitarian reasons? Do you seriously think they have fought the horrendously expensive war in Afghanistan to help little girls go to school?

And with them in this humanitarian effort is France - which a horrible record of killing and torture in Algeria and Vietnam. (As did the US in the latter case.)

Take a look at the wars of the last 50 years. The American performances have been not only brutal, but ineffective. Wall Street is very worried.

Of course, the wall street journal doesn't talk about it. They want you to think they're fighting terrorism, and bringing democracy to the world.

Look, the fundamental point of the constitution is that the US was to be a nation of free people, free to say what they thought, and with that  freedom guaranteed by due process of law.

The Home Defence Authorization bill cancels that guarantee of freedom. A terrorist is whoever the government says is a terrorist. For Pete's sake, this is exactly what the French revolution was about. That;s why storming the Bastille was such an event. The whole point of the revolution was to extablish rule by law, not by kingly whim.

And please stop using sources as if they were the same thing as authorities.

LBmuskoka's picture

LBmuskoka

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Not even the military liked the idea...

 

It would be one thing if the military was clamoring for the authority to become the nation’s jailer. But to the contrary: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opposes the maneuver. So does CIA Director David Petraeus, who usually commands deference from senators in both parties. Pretty much every security official has lined up against the Senate detention provisions, from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to FBI Director Robert Mueller, who worry that they’ll get in the way of FBI investigations of domestic terrorists.

      Senate Wants the Military to Lock You Up Without Trial
 

The problem, as is oft the problem, with American bills is that the provision was tucked into a massive omni bill.  Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place; veto the bill means vetoing other provisions that agencies and people support.  Think of it as the legal version of Metamucil in orange juice.  The end result is the equivalent; too much of the foul medicine and society will be crapping.

 

This is a nasty trend, that has crept across the border, of hiding draconian measures: Insert something unconstitutional into a massive pile of bureaucrateeze and hope nobody notices. The Americans are doing it. Our politicians are doing it. We, the people, are snoozing through it.

 

And for those that think this law only affects "a few", I again remind, this measure undermines hundreds of years of legal precedent and protection for citizens against totalitarian abuses of power.  It goes against principles dating back to the Magna Carta of 1216;  "No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land."

 

It is a law that is a return to the Dark Ages and everyone who believes in a democratic and just society should be alarmed.

 

 

 

Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.
     Robert Byrd

graeme's picture

graeme

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generally in agreement. I'm not so sure, though, about excusing Obama. He's a man who appears to need a lot of excusing.  He had the right and could have at least tried for popular support in refusing this bill. He didn't.

The big question is - who is really behind the defence authorization movement? Republican senators, of course, can be named. But who is behind them? My guess would be very big business.

LBmuskoka's picture

LBmuskoka

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Not excusing Graeme, just pointing out the inherent danger of omni bills.

 

And I agree, political leaders need to grow some balls and stop pandering to the lowest common denominator.

 

Although the populace could start demanding a higher standard and return the bar to its former position as well.

 

 

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.

      Robert M. Hutchins (1899 – 1977)

graeme's picture

graeme

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Yes. Here in New Brunswick, people, sheep-like, will vote for the Liberals or Conservatives in rotation despite the obvious ownership of both parties by the Irvings.

EasternOrthodox's picture

EasternOrthodox

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So the WSJ, supposedly written to cater to the business crowd, is deliberately not mentioning certain things in case they tip off the general public?  I am just trying to figure out how you are thinking.

 

WSJ does not shy away from other topics that are business-friendly, but might be controversial elsewhere.

graeme's picture

graeme

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Tipping off the public is both a dramatic and a naive way to interpret what I said.

Foirgive me for mentioning this. I wrote for newspapers for only thirty years or so. I feel intimidated debating this was such a knowledgeable person. But my experienc ewas that all newspapers do not mention certain things.

WSJ does not write the very upper levels of the business world. They don't need it to know what's going on. They're doing it.

Use common sense. The US has cut away the fundamental principle of democracy,  the right to personal freedom within the law. Duh---it must be okay. I mean, if it weren't, they wouldn't do it..

graeme's picture

graeme

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Tipping off the public is both a dramatic and a naive way to interpret what I said.

Foirgive me for mentioning this. I wrote for newspapers for only thirty years or so. I feel intimidated debating this was such a knowledgeable person. But my experienc ewas that all newspapers do not mention certain things.

WSJ does not write the very upper levels of the business world. They don't need it to know what's going on. They're doing it.

Use common sense. The US has cut away the fundamental principle of democracy,  the right to personal freedom within the law. Duh---it must be okay. I mean, if it weren't, they wouldn't do it..

waterfall's picture

waterfall

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Last I looked the United States is not a democracy and never was intended to be. It is a constitutional republic.

 

See video

 

 

graeme's picture

graeme

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It is not. There is nothing constitutional about a presidential power to detain indeifinitely without trial, and nothing about a presidential power to assassinate without charge or trial. Nor is there anything in the constitution to permit the army to do those things. The american constitution is a dead letter.

Originally, the constitution made the US a democracy except for women and non-whites. That concept broadened somewhat - though it took a long time to do so. However, in practical terms, the US is not a democracy, but a form of corporate fascism.

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