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September 30, 2006

“In Case I Disappear”
Posted by Patrick at 11:01 PM *

By William Rivers Pitt:

Underneath all this is the definition of “enemy combatant” that has been established by this legislation. An “enemy combatant” is now no longer just someone captured “during an armed conflict” against our forces. Thanks to this legislation, George W. Bush is now able to designate as an “enemy combatant” anyone who has “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.”

Consider that language a moment. “Purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States” is in the eye of the beholder, and this administration has proven itself to be astonishingly impatient with criticism of any kind. The broad powers given to Bush by this legislation allow him to capture, indefinitely detain, and refuse a hearing to any American citizen who speaks out against Iraq or any other part of the so-called “War on Terror.”

If you write a letter to the editor attacking Bush, you could be deemed as purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the United States. If you organize or join a public demonstration against Iraq, or against the administration, the same designation could befall you. One dark-comedy aspect of the legislation is that senators or House members who publicly disagree with Bush, criticize him, or organize investigations into his dealings could be placed under the same designation. In effect, Congress just gave Bush the power to lock them up.

By writing this essay, I could be deemed an “enemy combatant.” It’s that simple, and very soon, it will be the law. I always laughed when people told me to be careful. I’m not laughing anymore.

In case I disappear, remember this. America is an idea, a dream, and that is all. We have borders and armies and citizens and commerce and industry, but all this merely makes us like every other nation on this Earth. What separates us is the idea, the simple idea, that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our organizing principles. We can think as we please, speak as we please, write as we please, worship as we please, go where we please. We are protected from the kinds of tyranny that inspired our creation as a nation in the first place.

That was the idea. That was the dream. It may all be over now, but once upon a time, it existed. No good idea ever truly dies. The dream was here, and so was I, and so were you.

(Thanks to Soren de Selby and Bruce Adelsohn.)
Comments on "In Case I Disappear":
#1 ::: Jhn Sbtt ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 12:00 AM:

>Ys, Mr. Ptt blks t frgn wr, bt clms t b prprd fr hllcntry shtt wth th "frprs"! W dn't hv t blv Mr. Ptt (gn-hrdng lbrls n Bstn, f ll plcs?) t pprct th pthtc rny f th qs-rvltnry rhtrc vr t Dmcrtc ndrgrnd. Ths r, ftr ll, th sm lbrls wh, drng th Clntn rgm, rvld ll f s s "nt-gvrnmnt nts", wh chrd n vry sslt n r Cnstttnl lbrts, wh spprtd th Wc msscr - th sm lbrls wh r nw ... frd. t cldn't hppn t ncr ppl, ftr ll.

http://www.n-trsn.cm/rchvs/2003/03/20/lbrls-wn-gns-t/

#2 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Don't worry, it's normal for alternate-world travelers to be a bit disoriented on arrival.

#3 ::: Jhn Sbtt ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 12:42 AM:

W'll hv Dmcrt prsdnt sn ngh - thn ll y cncrnd ppl cn g bck t wrshppng lw n'rdr s y dd whn Clntn rld. (nd y'll fnd ths nw lws vry sfl, m sr - nd Mr. Ptt wn't hv th slghtst bjctn t ny f thm.)

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 12:50 AM:

Don't feed the troll.

#5 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 12:56 AM:

I'm sorry, John Sabotta, do you have an actual argument to make, beyond untestable hypotheticals?

#6 ::: Jhn Sbtt ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:15 AM:

Why, ys. My rgmnt s tht y r ll hypcrts.

nd thr s nthng "ntstbl" bt wht 'm syng. ll y gd nd cncrnd lbrls dfndd th Wc msscr whn Dmcrt rn thngs, nd y'll dfnd whtvr rprssv msrs Dmcrt prsdnt chss t tk n th ftr. Y lwys hv, s t's nt nrsnbl t ssm y lwys wll. nly >Rpblcn msdds rs yr ndgntn, nd nly bcs pwr s nt n >yr hnds.

#7 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:23 AM:

In case I disappear, remember this. America is an idea, a dream, and that is all. We have borders and armies and citizens and commerce and industry, but all this merely makes us like every other nation on this Earth. What separates us is the idea, the simple idea, that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our organizing principles. We can think as we please, speak as we please, write as we please, worship as we please, go where we please. We are protected from the kinds of tyranny that inspired our creation as a nation in the first place.

It's interesting - the United States is the first country where I've felt the need to let friends know to look for me if I hadn't been heard from within a certain (fairly short) amount of time.

Actually - let me retract that. It's not interesting. It's chilling.

#8 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:30 AM:

I started to write a response to Mr Sabotta, and then realized that he hasn't come here to discourse, but to insult, and to call the people he imagines we are names.

Good night, Gracie.

#9 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:16 AM:

I wept when Waco burnt. I raged when Janet Reno "took responsibility" and nothing happened to her. I turned my back on the party I was raised into. I responded to the Clinton administration's enforcement of absurd cryptography export restrictions by becoming an international arms trafficker in 1996. In 1996 and 2000, I voted for the Libertarian nominees for president; I honestly thought it didn't matter whether Gore or Bush won in 2000.

I was wrong. I was horribly wrong. When you say "Only Republican misdeeds arouse your indignation", you're just wrong, as wrong as I was then.

#10 ::: Jhn Sbtt ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:20 AM:

ll rght, "Lzz" - shw m Mr. Ptt's mpssnd prtst gnst Wc, r hs cll fr Rn's rsgntn nd 'll gldly dmt m wrng.

#11 ::: Rebecca Borgstrom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:30 AM:

Just a little bit further, now, and things'll get better.

Just a little bit further.

A few more drops of blood, a few more sacrifices, a bit more time. It'll all be worth it then.

It's not the President's fault that things are still so dark. They were dark to begin with.

You remember. Back then. The dark.

It's been getting worse for a little bit, but it will get better.

It hasn't been getting worse for *that* long.

Just for a little bit. It's been a bad patch. But it'll get better.

Just a little bit further now. We've already come so far. We wouldn't want to waste it.

Could we even turn back?

A few more drops of blood. A little more time.

I hurt for you.

It's been so long in the dark. I hurt for you. But it's not that much farther.

Soon things will get better. Why, there's the hills, just a little bit to the east, and somewhere beyond that will be the dawn.

You've gambled everything on this, haven't you? Already? Don't waste it now. Don't turn back.

Back there there's only teeth and shadows in the night.

I hurt for you. So harshly used by fate. But it's just a little bit further.

It's not your fault.

It's not anybody's fault.

Somewhere there are hills, aren't there? Somewhere there's east? Somewhere, there's a dawn?

You don't have anything if the President is wrong. How else are you going to find your way to light?

It's just a little bit further now.

A little bit further and then everything will be okay.

#12 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:33 AM:

Second attempt at this; first one was quarantined, and I'm not sure if those actually get looked at in these days of spam.

I wept when Waco burned. I raged at Janet Reno taking responsibility then being let off the hook.[1] I responded to the Clinton administration crypto export rules by becoming an international arms trafficker[2].

in 1996 and 2000, I voted Libertarian. In 2000, I honestly thought it didn't matter whether Bush or Gore won.

I was wrong. I was horribly, horribly wrong. And you're just as wrong now, Mr. Sabotta.


[1] http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:FoBDjNgxSmAJ:www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl%3Fmsg_id%3D001PY5+jtl+waco&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1 -- search for 'jtl'
[2] http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:FoBDjNgxSmAJ:www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl%3Fmsg_id%3D001PY5+jtl+waco&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1

#13 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:34 AM:

Second attempt at this; first one was quarantined, and I'm not sure if those actually get looked at in these days of spam.

I wept when Waco burned. I raged at Janet Reno taking responsibility then being let off the hook.[1] I responded to the Clinton administration crypto export rules by becoming an international arms trafficker[2].

in 1996 and 2000, I voted Libertarian. In 2000, I honestly thought it didn't matter whether Bush or Gore won.

I was wrong. I was horribly, horribly wrong. And you're just as wrong now, Mr. Sabotta.


[1] 72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:FoBDjNgxSmAJ:www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl%3Fmsg_id%3D001PY5+jtl+waco&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1 -- search for 'jtl'
[2] 72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:FoBDjNgxSmAJ:www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl%3Fmsg_id%3D001PY5+jtl+waco&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1

#14 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:36 AM:

Argh. Second link in #11 should be web.archive.org/web/19961018094003/http://online.offshore.com.ai/arms-trafficker/known-traffickers

#15 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:45 AM:

Troll, people. He's trolling you.

#16 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 04:05 AM:

Todd: Ah, yes, cryptography as munitions. I had a T-shirt (bought from Joel Furr -- I like to horrify newer arrivals to the internet by telling them about the days when e-commerce meant somebody posted about an item to Usenet and you sent them a check) with a machine-readable implementation of RSA, that said, "This T-shirt is a munition." Can't recall if I ever wore it out of the country, though, so I'm not sure if I was an arms trafficker.

#17 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 05:20 AM:

Shades of First They Came...

People are already being disappeared, summary execution is taking place on foreign soil, in nations where we are not at war.

As best as I can tell the only reason these crimes are essentially ignored is that the victims are of a dark enough hue that the general population is uninspired to outrage. Either that or we have just become so numb and apathetic that we really have completely abdicated any sense of personal responsibility for the actions of our governments.

I have long been afraid of our governments, and I grow more afraid each day. I have always openly dissented, I have a tendency to get arrested for opposing government policy, and I have no confidence I will not one day disappear.

When the next big terrorist attack is alleged to have been carried out by radicals in our midst, I am quite far from certain that a Hellfire missile will not be coming for me, or that a cell in an offshore limbo will not have my name on it.

#18 ::: Gareth Wilson ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 06:23 AM:

"Shades of First They Came..."
That "first they came" quote is an accurate description of what the Nazis did to Niemoeller, but there are very serious problems in using it to argue against other tyrannies or atrocities. Because the Nazi pattern is not typical, and governments can be selective. "First they came for the Armenians, and I did not speak up, for I was not an Armenian. Then they came for the Kurds, and I said nothing, for I was not a Kurd. Then... well, nothing happened to me after that." Doesn't have the same ring, does it? As for the torture bill, I'd be hugely surprised if anyone reading this or anyone they know is ever directly affected by it. They will never, ever, "come for you". But surely you have more substantial objections to it than the direct effect on you and the people you know. And if it was exclusively applied to Sunni Muslims, that wouldn't make it any more morally acceptable, would it?

#19 ::: nn. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 06:31 AM:

Wllm Rvrs Ptt wrt:

>"mrc s n d, drm, nd tht s ll ... Wht sprts s s th d, th smpl d, tht lf, lbrty nd th prst f hppnss r r rgnzng prncpls ... W r prtctd frm th knds f tyrnny tht nsprd r crtn s ntn n th frst plc."

h, th pty. h, th vnty.

mrc: fndd by Prtn zlts; blt wth slv lbr tp th pld crpss f n xtrmntd ndgns ppltn. Th lst grt rpn mpr. Y nvr wr frr, frr plc.

Wllm Rvrs Ptt: wth yr hd wrppd s tghtly n th flg, y hv th Prsdnt y dsrv. My y drwn n yr wn jngstc mythlgy.

#20 ::: Mark Waters ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 06:43 AM:

There was a time when these truths were held to be self evident. Now they're coming looking for the evidence.

#21 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 08:02 AM:

There are some good points being raised, but in this context, and in a world of astroturf, I too often wonder, "But why are they saying this now?"

And, right now, there's enough little problems with the Moving Type upgrade, and the normal operation of the site, that I can't easily check on a name. Some people, I can remember. Some, I can't. But my lack of recollection isn't enough. Even the placing of a name in the last 400 posts can be no more than suggestive.

So, Gareth Wilson, while I appreciate the point you're making, I'm not sure I can trust you on the info I can get. Not yet.

#22 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 08:03 AM:

Nah, America is not an idea. Ideas are much stronger and harder to hit. America is a country. It's had good moments and bad moments. This is one of the bad moments. There are far worse things about it than the wound inflicted to one's romanticized views of one's country.

American citizens have ideas. Well, a lot of them. Ideals, even. But ideals need contant care and attention, need to be greased, oiled, tested, repaired if necessary. When you don't do contant manutention, things break down. Then it's a hell of an effort to get them to work again, and sometimes you just have to start from scratch.

Add to this that engines break down due to the relentless work of entroy, but ideals are brought down by powerful and cunning forces.

Yes, it's one of the bad times, all right. The world is getting darker and darker. But it's not due to any natural law, and therefore, the cycle could reverse. Will take some doing, though.

#23 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 09:00 AM:

From the outside (and I'm from the UK) I've always felt that America was a dream. It rarely lived up to it's ideals, but it always strove for them. Pitt nailed my feelings about America in the second to last quoted paragraph.

It's just sad that for him to write it is when his dream of America is becoming a nightmare.

#24 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 09:04 AM:

There is in fact a certain vanity to Pitt's assertion that "what separates us" from other nations is an ideal of liberty. One can well imagine the English, Scots, and French raising a few eyebrows at this kind of talk. Granted, I don't believe anyone else's founding documents specifically cite, as a fundamental purpose of a well-run country, the enabling of "the pursuit of happiness."

What Pitt is really saying is "we had something here, and we still have its remains, and that's important, if we can manage to remember it." Which is true. Americans do need to get over their exceptionalism, but that doesn't mean their country ought not be special to them. Somebody had better consider it special; the people currently in charge certainly don't.

And yes, America's history is drenched in blood and built on bones. At any point in our history you see the tug-of-war between the slavemaster and the abolitionist. The existence of the former doesn't render the latter wrong, or trivial.

#25 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 09:41 AM:

Patrick wrote:
And yes, America's history is drenched in blood and built on bones. At any point in our history you see the tug-of-war between the slavemaster and the abolitionist. The existence of the former doesn't render the latter wrong, or trivial.

of corse t dos. n fltr, n ms-stp, rndrs n d, nton, prson, no mttr how prsworth r mportnt thy onc wr, sbjct onl to bttr rcrmnton nd dsgst. Sch flln hros cn nvr...

you know, I just can't do it.

Those on the far Left (or other places on the political spectrum) who can do nothing but heap disgust and hatred on all things American are as weird and dislikable to me as those on the far Right (likewise) who unreservedly heap adoration and blind veneration without thought for how those things got there.

We're a nation. In the end, I think a pretty damn good one, that has its faults and its mis-steps - and even outright failures - and that sometimes, maybe even often - hasn't lived up to the very lofty ideals it was founded under (even if those weren't the only reasons for founding it). Then again, many nations - probably all nations - would have problems living up to those ideals.

We're not paladins, nor have we always been the Shining House on the Hill - but we've been better than this in the past, and (insert higher power of your choice - including willpower, elbow grease and/or luck) willing and the creek don't rise, we will be again. And next time, we'll try harder.

But for now - I've got a passle of .22lr that needs shooting, since it's sitting in a coffee mug after the box collapsed during my move. I'd invite ya'll along, but none of you live near me, so....

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 09:57 AM:

Mr. Sabotta, "Anon.", you've both been disemvowelled for being rude, and for being factually incorrect, and for doing it badly.

In Mr. Sabotta's case, there's the additional offense of the "all you liberals" riff, which as usual is a bizarre fantasia cooked up out of right-wing propaganda.

In the case of "Anon." (82.165.180.112, for what it's worth), the anonymity compounds the offense. Pseudonymous commenters making unexceptionable remarks aren't a problem, but I have no use for cowards who post flaming messages anonymously.

Anon.'s argument was slightly interesting in its pathology. He's so desperate to defend the right-wing regime in which he's invested that he's willing to argue that this latest atrocity isn't a significant change in American democracy or law.

This non-reality-based stuff just gets weirder every day.

#27 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:02 AM:

What the right-wingers fail to understand is that they, personally, their families and friends, are one anonymous denunciation (or being named in a torture-induced "confession") away from vanishing without charge, without attorney, without recourse, into life in solitary imprisonment. That they personally will confess their crimes in great detail, and will name their friends, or total strangers, as their co-conspirators.

They ought to look up the Dirty War in Argentina.

#28 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:08 AM:

They probably think Argentina is some Third World hellhole, instead of (as it is) a rich, industrialized, powerful country with a big middle class.

There was a point in the early 20th century when Argentina had one of the highest per capita standards of living in the world.

#29 ::: Adamxtemple ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:19 AM:

"This non-reality-based stuff just gets weirder every day."

Can it get weirder?

Flat daddy, flat mommy.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/08/30/guard_families_cope_in_two_dimensions/

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:21 AM:

My impassioned protest against Waco, and my calls for Janet Reno to resign were on GEnie, and in letters to Ms. Reno, Mr. Clinton, my senators, congressman, and the editor of my local newspaper.

Where were yours, chum?

#31 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:30 AM:

Although, for that matter, consider David Neiwert's accounting of Waco. In particular:

What is not known about Waco is that the final assault plan was amended on the ground by the tactical field commanders on the very day of the assault. That alteration had been discussed and rejected by the FBI brass over several weeks. Nonetheless, the FBI HRT commander, Richard Rogers implemented the rejected plan via a loophole signed by Janet Reno the morning of the final assault on April 19. That alteration was identical to the gassing and demolition plan that two Delta Force advisors seconded to the Justice Dept. in a principals meeting of April 14. Those two advisors supported the rejected plan that was later implemented "hypothetically" in order to conform to the letter of Posse Comitatus law. I also have published a peer-reviewed article with this finding. It is based on government documents--all open source. The rejected plan supported by Jeff Jamar, Richard Rogers, and the two Delta Force officers resulted in a disaster that did not have to happen. It was an ill-advised tactical approach to a religious community that feared that Satan was attacking them.

Those two Delta Force officers were Peter J. Schoomaker and "Jerry" Boykin, now both top officials in the US Army in charge of military planning for the war on terrorism.

Yes, it's that Jerry Boykin and, even more pointedly, it's that Peter Schoomaker.

#32 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Off-topic, if the topic is Waco, but not if the topic is the state of the union: according to a diary on Kos, Colin Powell is stating this morning on MSNBC Live that he has written in his new book that he was, in fact, fired -- he did not resign. At last.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:56 AM:

once there were giants here who made the rules
whose word was law because their words were just
now our wise leaders term those heroes fools

the people now are silent muzzled mules
thirsting for water finding only dust
once there were giants here who made the rules

true history's no longer told in schools
instead we're urged to more and more bloodlust
now our wise leaders term those heroes fools

who freed the slaves who saw them not as tools
but men and women who would the law adjust
once there were giants here who made the rules

but now we all will wade through blood in pools
since low necessity makes laws combust
now our wise leaders term those heroes fools

who made the laws and constitution as jewels
symbols of honour and of truth august
once there were giants here who made the rules
now our wise leaders term those heroes fools

#34 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 11:04 AM:

Well, let's not worry our heads about it. Soon enough, this will be the way it's always been, and we'll have more chocolate, too.

breaks character

God, if they had to remake our society to look like a novel, why couldn't it have been something that wasn't a by-word for sterile evil?

#35 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 12:30 PM:

Rebecca: Thank you.

#36 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Dave Bell:

When it's not obvious crap, it makes sense to read the statement being made and see if it makes sense. That's not always easy in a discussion as upsetting as this one is. But I think Gareth is substantially right:

a. It's unlikely any of us will be tortured on this authority.

b. That doesn't make it any better morally, but it does make it a lot more acceptable politically.

The problem with (a) is that "unlikely" is a little less certainty than I'd like. Compare these two situations:

Situation #1: The president won't have his political opponents' phones tapped, or have them disappeared and tortured into confessing some make-up crime, because everyone agrees that he doesn't have the authority to do those things, and the mechanisms to do them simply don't exist. It would take dozens of unacceptable decisions made in public to get to that point, and if he tried to make those decisions, he'd be voted out of office or impeached.

Situation #2: The president won't have his political opponents' phones tapped, or have them disappeared and tortured into confessing some make-up crime, because if he did those things and it came out in public, either he would be impeached or the legitimacy of the government would be lost and the country might very well be wrecked. Even though he and about half the country think he has those powers, even though the mechanisms to carry out such decisions are readily available, he simply will not make the decision to use them in that way, because the consequences would be too horrible.

Now, my sense of this is that we're at least shading ever closer to Situation #2. I want to be in Situation #1. My reasoning is that sometimes, political leaders make disasterous, suicidal decisions, like Nixon having his henchmen bug the Democratic party headquarters, or Chamberlain steadfastly refusing to take any action about an ever-increasing threat from Germany. Neither of these were stupid men, nor were their advisors. Neither of these cases weere unique, either--look at the decisions that led to the first world war, look at the decisions and miscalculations that led to the US civil war.

I don't want us to be one set of disasterous political decisions away from wrecking the country. That's too much faith to put in one man. And yet, I think that's the direction we're moving with this expanding set of claimed powers for the president. One day, someone is going to decide that those powers let him get rid of his political opponents, listen to their phone calls, haul their doctor, therapist, and priest in for a little waterboarding to get the dirt on them, etc. And after that, one of two things happens: Either a scandal bigger and more destructive than Watergate takes place, or the country literally transitions to a police state.

#37 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:18 PM:

As for the torture bill, I'd be hugely surprised if anyone reading this or anyone they know is ever directly affected by it. They will never, ever, "come for you"

You don't know, however, who is reading this or what we do, or for that matter who we know. Blanket statements in any direction are problematic.

As regards me: I am not a particularly important person in the world of Bush opposition. But I edit a radical environmental magazine that IS relatively prominent, or at least if you graphed the curves of "radical" and "prominent" among environmental mags, Earth Island Journal would be somewhere near the intersection of the lines. We get press releases and communications of various kinds from all sorts of people. It is entirely possible that law enforcement might decide I had received email from one of those groups whose TLA starts with a vowel and ends in Ell Eff.

I have not, and abhor those groups, but we are dealing here in stereotype. I have opposed the Bush Administration in print, blatantly, on the cover of the magazine. I have an FBI file (a copy of which is somewhere in this house underneath a pile of magazines or something) going back to 1982 for public opposition to the selective service system and defense department: this constitutes my providing material aid to the enemy by attempting to interfere with the Pentagon. (The law doesn't say you have to be effective.)

Am I being melodramatic and self-important? No more than usual, I suspect. Am I in the first tier of potential detainees? Not at all, nor am I likely in the second or third tiers. I'm a citizen, I'm not of Arab or other swarthily profilable descent, and I'm not a big important radical. But there are not-implausible scenarios in which this law affects my life in distinctly unpleasant and direct ways.

#38 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:19 PM:

The broad powers given to Bush by this legislation allow him to capture, indefinitely detain, and refuse a hearing to any American citizen who speaks out against Iraq or any other part of the so-called "War on Terror."

I've read a lot of posts like the one quoted which claim that American citizens are subject to all the bad stuff in the MCA act if they are designated as "unlawful enemy combatants."

I've read the bill and honestly, I don't see where it says that. It specifically states that the bad stuff applies to alien unlawful enemy combatants.

The act is bad enough in its application to non-citizens. It would of course be infinitely worse if it applied to citizens as well, but I don't see it in the bill. Can some helpful person point out where it is?

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:29 PM:

DaveL - Well, given that the bill would allow the president to decide who might fit the definition (and it's a very loose definition, according to the lawyers on blogs I read), it's quite possible that any one of us might be disappearable under the terms of the act.

#40 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:44 PM:

#36, DaveL: Can some helpful person point out where it is?
Section 948a.1.ii defines an unlawful enemy combatant as
"a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense."

There is nothing there about whether the person is or is not a US citizen. An unlawful enemy combatant is merely anyone whom this tribunal thinks is one. Yes, one can make the argument that the military commission set up by the rest of the law is not available to citizen unlawful enemy combatants (due to Section 948c). However, since that means they would then be subject to the current treatment of unlawful enemy combatants, I don't see how this is reassuring.

See http://balkin.blogspot.com/2006/09/does-military-commissions-act-apply-to.html for more details.

#41 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:52 PM:

Jack Balkin has an interesting analysis of the question of whether and how the MCA applies to citizens. Near the end, he asks a very weird question: "However, what if the DoD determines that a U.S. citizen is an alien in a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, claims that its determination is conclusive under section 948a(1)(ii) and ships the person off to Guantanamo?"

I think I'm troubled by the fact this question isn't obviously ridiculous on its face.

#42 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:53 PM:

P J Evans said Well, given that the bill would allow the president to decide who might fit the definition (and it's a very loose definition, according to the lawyers on blogs I read)

Which definition? The Senate bill, S.3930, defines both "alien" and "unlawful enemy combatant," and the definitions don't seem very loose to me. Then it goes on to say that the provisions of the bill refer to "alien unlawful enemy combatants."

I find nothing in there about citizens. If you are an immigrant or a resident alien, you might want to worry.

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:54 PM:

P J, I'd just add to that, how might somebody prove they're not an alien? I know there's something else going on, about proving citizenship when you turn up to vote, and people have been saying how few documents prove that.

What this revocation of habeas corpus does is horribly break the failure modes. It's like driving without a seatbelt.

And we know they make mistakes.

#44 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 01:57 PM:

Powell is not a "good soldier" in the USA. The good soldier raises objections and documents them in a "CYA" memo, then salutes and says yes when ordered to do something legal which the soldier considers stupid, and updates the CYA memo. Then the soldier pulls out the CYA memo after the excrement hits the wall....

Case B, the truly good soldier seeing that an order is illegal, refuses to obey it--having first of course composed the CYA memo. The soldier if then fires, raises a giant public stink about it with the CYA memo as evidence of moral turpitude and crimes committed by the superiors ordering the illegal action....

NONE of the current bunch of upper manager MBA military general officers seem to be "good soldiers." They flunk the tests of e.g. Nuremburg, regarding things like torture. That demoted woman who was supposed to have been the commander's whose responsibility included Abu Ghraib, admitted in her book that she failed the most basic piece of "What don't you understand about covering your ass when given immoral, unethical, or even illegal orders?" She didn't write the CYA memo, and as a result she got pilloried and scapegoated, and the blame did NOT get pinned on MGen Miller, Rumsfeld, and the Lout who has presided in the conversion of the USA int a fasicist imperialist police state.

#45 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:00 PM:

The oath of office of an officer in the US military says to defend the US Constitution--the military officials at top and going down from them, have mostly broken their oaths. The Lout of course apparently came into office without any intentions of complying, as did most of the advisors and apparatchiks with the most power and control in the US Government.

Key damning evidence includes their intentions from the start to interfere in Iraq.

#46 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:18 PM:

DaveL, it looks like you're right, the House and Senate bills are silent on the subject of unlawful military combatants who are US citizens. So either the compromise bill isn't the text of either one (hard to believe, even given the last-minute changes) or the media is misreporting this one.

Still, if I don the tin foil for a moment, the draft Patriot II allowed stripping US citizenship under certain conditions. What do you do if the military tribunal tells you that you're no longer a US citizen?

And why doesn't this bill answer how to handle Jose Padilla?

#47 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:41 PM:

A belated idea - what may be going on is that the bill (re?)defines "unlawful enemy combatants" with a lower bar. Although the bill doesn't provide for any trial process for US citizen unlawful enemy combatants, presumably the administration would be able to treat them the way they treat other unlawful enemy combatants:

Hold them indefinitely without trial. Sec.948a(1) of HR 6166 is then the key passage for US citizens. Clause (ii) of that is an "or", which seems to say "even if clause (i) doesn't apply, the President or the Secretary of Defense can lay out rules to declare you an enemy combatant".

#48 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:45 PM:

Colin Powell's trying to place himself in the Hjalmar Schacht role in the upcoming war crimes trials.

It won't work. He's in too deep.

#49 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 02:56 PM:

James D. MacDonald (#25): Yes, exactly -- but your comment provides the seeds of a partial solution. Anyone who is worried that they might someday be disappeared under this legislation (no matter how unlikely it seems right now) should be composing the story they will tell under relatively light levels of torture, and the names they will provide as "co-conspirators". Prominent among those names should be anyone they know who has actively supported this legislation, or the concept of torture in general. Rehearse the story in your head enough times that when you tell it, it will sound genuine. Let these people get a first-hand taste of what they think is such an unobjectionable idea.

On a different topic, anyone who is interested in astroturfing should check out this community on LiveJournal. The "community" in question is one of LJ's less-inspired notions, a "corporate-sponsored" promotional site. But of particular interest is the fact that most of the people making positive comments about the movie have brand-new LJ accounts. If these aren't corporate-paid astroturfing sockpuppets, I'll eat my hat.

(It should also be noted that the community's astroturf status has been spread around, and a LOT of people are coming in there to say, "I'll never see this movie now that you're using dishonest means to publicize it.")

#50 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 03:12 PM:

#32 ::: Kip W winced:
God, if they had to remake our society to look like a novel, why couldn't it have been something that wasn't a by-word for sterile evil?

    "Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. 
    This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a 
    time it will.  It will become ordinary."
#51 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 03:40 PM:

DaveL: There are separate clauses, one of them describe the tribunals to which aliens, who are unlawful enemy combatants, are sunject.

The other defines "unlawful enemy combatants" and does not limit such a thing to aliens.

The law furter says that such a determination (only to be made by the president, or his agents) is dispositive, and that those who are so declared, or awaiting determination of status, may not appeal their detention, nor the conditions of it.

That's bad.

What is also bad is that nothing in this law forbids, outright, the use of such tribunals for trying citizens, it merely affirms that such tribunals have jurisdiction over aliens (which was part of what Hamdan said needed to be clarified).

#52 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 03:42 PM:

Albatross wrote (#34):

When it's not obvious crap, it makes sense to read the statement being made and see if it makes sense. That's not always easy in a discussion as upsetting as this one is. But I is is kind ofthink Gareth is substantially right:

a. It's unlikely any of us will be tortured on this authority.

b. That doesn't make it any better morally, but it does make it a lot more acceptable politically.

I think that the problem that I have is that disconnect you mention in item b.

In particular, it would be nice if all the people who don't think it'll happen to them would stand up for the people to whom it might happen.

Dumb question time: maybe I'm missing something here - as I understand it, non-citizens have never been protected by the Constitution:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Amendment 14)

Hmmmm...I guess it's a little confusing because it switches from 'citizens' to 'persons' within a sentence. Does due process actually apply to everyone? I know that the US government has certainly treated non-citizens in a way that belies this (like deporting them to third countries).

#53 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 03:49 PM:

I've followed all this with interest, if not quite the despair that some of you feel. Seems to me that there's a lot of 'How can this have happened here, we're special?'

Sorry, friends, the USA is not chosen among nations. No nation is, ever, and there is always trouble when a nation forgets that.

Now, Americans indivually and collectively have done some pretty special things and it's government has done some ghastly things, mostly away from your shores, which tend to get forgotten (what happened to the naval officer who shot down an airliner of pilgrims on their way the Haj? Promoted, that's what. And you wonder why Islam looks at you askance.) You've recently seen that America is not immune from the effects of the conflict its foreign policy has caused, any more than it is immune from natural disaster. Learn those lessons. Please.

Being born an American doesn't make you special, or above the laws of civilized people (most of which Americans played a major part in creating - see special things above) Now that's what Mr Bush appears to think, and almost everybody here seems to think he's wrong.

Which isn't to say that being born in America doesn't give you increased opportunities to do special things. Those special things aren't arbitrary bombing, 'Snakes on a Plane' or Beyonce's ass. Whatever did happen to the Peace Corps? Rhodes scholars? Arthur Miller? Louis Armstrong? (and that could be a very long list, if anything believes that I'm suggesting that America, Americans and - even today - the American government are only responsible for bad things, because I'm not)

What I think we are faced with here is one of those turning points in history. You, as Americans (mostly) can reassert those values set down in your constitution, realising that your founding fathers believed they applied to ALL peoples (yes, slavery was a bit of a problem, wasn't it). In which case, America the ideal will be reborn, tested in the fire, stronger than ever. Or you can choose not to, in which case, in a century it will be a case of 'Hey, America, I used to have a thing with him.'

Which is not what I call anything like a good idea. Am I being too optimistic is expecting that not to happen? Special is as special does.

#54 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Debcha, why are you making a statement about what the Constitution has supposedly "never" done, and trying to back it up by quoting from an amendment written after the Civil War?

The citizenship section of the 14th Amendment was written to overturn the portion of Dred Scott that stated that blacks couldn't become citizens. This has already been done by congressional law (the Civil Rights Act of 1866), and here it was being put into the Constitution to keep the Supreme Court from declaring the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional.

The "No State shall" section is a limitation on state power, not federal power.

#55 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 04:14 PM:

FungiFromYuggoth and Terry Karney: Just after the part of the bill you both refer to it says (in 948b.a): "This chapter [i.e, the bill, which is about Chapter 47A] establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission."

Then in 948c it says: "Persons subject to military commissions -- Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission under this chapter."

The part about determination of who is an "unlawful enemy combatant" comes in 948d, which is about jurisdiction: "Jurisdiction- A military commission under this chapter shall have jurisdiction to try any offense made punishable by this chapter or the law of war when committed by an alien unlawful enemy combatant before, on, or after September 11, 2001."

It goes on to the determination issue: "A finding ... by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense that a person is an unlawful enemy combatant is dispositive for purposes of jurisdiction for trial by military commission under this chapter."

I don't see how any of this (except the actual definition of "unlawful combatant") could be construed to apply to citizens.

It is perfectly reasonable to dislike this as it applies to anyone, whether citizen or non-citizen; it is perfectly reasonable to worry about how it applies to such people as resident aliens or even about determination of alien status; it is perfectly reasonable to worry about watering down the definition of "unlawful combatant" (if it in fact does so); it is perfectly reasonable to worry about the watering down of the Geneva Convention; it is perfectly reasonable to object to the provisions on no-this-isn't-really-torture-cuz-we-say it isn't.

It is even utterly reasonable to worry about someone in future trying to extend these rules to citizens.

However, it is unreasonable to read the bill and say they so apply in this version of it. William Rivers Pitt does so and IMHO he is wrong.

#56 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 05:32 PM:

DaveL: Balkinization believes that it affects citizens too, and I, and Eric Muller, and a host of others.

I agreed that it is about who is, prima facie, subject to military tribunals, as created under this law, but I note that you don't address that this law does strip habeas protections from anyone accused of being an "unlawful" enemy combatant (beside the point, a bit, is that this also defines away any combatant who isn't part of the army of a state: since insurgents and partisans are recognised by the Geneva Conventions of 1948, and the later changes didn't remove that; there is a conflict between this law, and parts of Geneva which weren't in question, before this, "clarification."

So confinement, without duration, with the possibility of torture, and without advice of counsel, charges or means to protest one's innocence, are all possible outcomes of this law.

So, IMHO you are wrong.

debcha: The Constitution (and a couple centuries of case law) make it pretty plain that where the word "person" is used, it applies to anyone inside the boundaries of the United States (there is some question, not resolved, but tending away, as to the protections offered to persons in territories, but I digress). Where the rights, and protections, are limited to citizens the language is clear, because it says citizens.

It has been, apparently, a concerted effort to make it seem that those who wish to see that those rights guaranteed to all persons (as evidenced, in part, by the language of the Declaration of Independence, which says "all Men" not "all Americans", as well as the defenses of the Constitution, to be found in the Federalist Papers) are, or ought to be, limited only to those persons who are citizens.

This is a reprehensible doctrine.

#57 ::: D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Re: #51: Cyminisectori of a nitpick: The Rhodes Scholar program is British. A number of Americans have been awarded Rhodes Scholarships, including a former President and a fictional character. You're thinking of the Fulbright scholarships. Thank you for listening.

#58 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 06:09 PM:

#55 Dave

Thanks for pointing out my error. I should have remembered that Cecil Rhodes was a particularly unpleasant example of British imperialist (Rhodesia wouldn't have been named after him if he'd been an American, would it) Still, bringing such as Kris Kristofferson and Bill Clinton to Britain is a good use of his ill gotten gains.

#59 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 06:28 PM:

I am not personally worried about being disappeared. However, I think we can all be justified in worrying about the consequences of being citizens of a country that disappears people. There already are too many places we're advised not to travel to. I don't think it is a coincidence that these places have oppressive regimes that we have been supporting, to the deep anger and resentment of those who live there.

For a long time, we were able to feel that our ideals could smooth over the consequences of our actions. We're losing that feeling.

#60 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 06:49 PM:

DaveL: To back up what Terry Karney has written, I agree with you that if the Bush Administration were to adhere to the exact letter of the law and not make any mistakes, the new bill wouldn't apply to citizens and would probably pass constitutional muster. [I'd still think it was vile but for different reasons.] The problem isn't what the law provides for but what it fails to provide for and, in fact, specifically disallows: redress for citizens imprisoned as aliens.

Functionally then, according to the law, the Bush Administration could simply declare anyone it doesn't like an alien enemy combatant and that's the end of it. No appeals, no nothing. I don't expect this to happen to any of us, mind, but the possibility exists. That's the abuse I see and, frankly, it's the explicit disallowance of any habeas hearings that makes it both unconstitutional and warrants the descriptor fascist.

#61 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 06:55 PM:

Terry Karney: The only reference to habeas corpus is in section 950j, where it clearly refers to actions of military commissions, and earlier the jurisdiction of military commissions is limited to aliens.

I will agree that this section is problematic in that it could be argued that it takes away the ability to obtain judicial relief if a military commission contends a prisoner is an alien, and the prisoner contends he/she is not.

This is one of the areas in which the bill is unequivocally bad. I think you (and the others you mention) are wrong that any provision of the bill (except the actual definition of "unlawful combatant") could apply to citizens. However, you are absolutely right that the idea that rights belong only to citizens, which this bill wholeheartedly subscribes to, is pernicious.

To me, the problem is that your belief, loudly promoted by many who share it, is relatively easily rebutted and makes opposition to the rest of the provisions (including redefining Geneva, just to name one) look meretricious.

#62 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 07:05 PM:

DaveL said: I don't see how any of this (except the actual definition of "unlawful combatant") could be construed to apply to citizens.

It seems we agree, that is the only part that I see applying to citizens. Assuming we're reading the correct text, there were some late changes and there has been a tendency for "conference" changes to include brand new language.

What affects US citizens is the apparent legal mechanism to hold anyone indefinitely based on procedures as yet to be established by Bush and/or Rumsfeld, which are not required to have anything to do with material opposition.

I hope that the understanding of what the bill does and doesn't say will be cleared up next week, although what it means will take a few years to shake out. Jose Padilla is yet again the test case.

#63 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 07:30 PM:

You know, the troll who posted first was on his way to making a valid point . . . but his grudge-addled mind didn't go beyond cranky resentment to realize what it was.

He stopped at you liberals will be just as bad once you get into power, nyahhh!

Um, Mr. Troll? Shouldn't this be your cue to oppose this administration's excesses?

You yourself suggested that there'd be a Democratic president eventually. Do you really want to hand over to them a country whose laws give the president the powers of a tyrant?

Shouldn't you be fighting tooth and nail the attempts to neuter our constitutional rights that is going on right now?

Shouldn't you declare your enemy that pompous demogogue, Newt Gingrich, who suggested that maybe we should ignore Supreme Court rulings which defy the "national will?"

Alas, I suspect that you are what David Brin calls a Self Righteousness Addict, and will cling to your historical grudges and have an enemies list written in indelible ink. Like the Naderites who helped Bush get selected in 2000, it is more important to wallow in smug than hold your nose occasionally to take up sides against the worse of two evils.

#64 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 07:37 PM:
P J, I'd just add to that, how might somebody prove they're not an alien?

I'm reminded of Iva Toguri, who died recently, who had a great deal of trouble convincing the US government that she was a US citizen. Until the government decided that they would try her for treason.

As you say, they do indeed make mistakes.

#65 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 08:02 PM:

#59, DaveL:To me, the problem is that your belief, loudly promoted by many who share it, is relatively easily rebutted and makes opposition to the rest of the provisions (including redefining Geneva, just to name one) look meretricious.

To me, the problem is that you keep saying that Terry et al. are just plain wrong, but you haven't actually rebutted their points, except via strawman. No one has said suggested that sections of HR6166 other than the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" apply to citizens beside you (and you suggested it only to demolish it.)

What people have said is that the ability to designate any citizen arbitrarily as an unlawful enemy combatant may lead the government to treat them as they have treated other people designated unlawful enemy combatants, e.g., the way they have treated Padilla and Hamdi.

Since this is, as you say, so relatively easily rebutted, could you please do this for the sake of those of us who do not understand why the ability to arbitrarily name any citizen as an "unlawful enemy combatant" does not lead to them being treated as such, because the Bush administration has historically denied unlawful enemy combatants the right of habeas corpus (cf. the Padilla and Hamdi cases.)?

Thank you.

#66 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 08:43 PM:

The USA was supposed to be "a nation of laws" such that people would not be treated arbitrarily and capriciously, but rather, as equals under the law, with guaranties of fair and equitable treatment and equal protection--not one set of rules for monarchs, another for nobles, and a third for hoi polloi.... And, there was to be minimal wiggle room for treating different people differently for the same actions, they were to be tried and judged based on the whims of the judge and jury, but upon the words of the law.

#67 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 09:09 PM:

DaveL: I make my living because of the definitions of the Geneva Conventions. In addition I teach them to those who are trying to get into my line of work (Interrogator, US Army).

This law redefines the the Conventions, full stop.

If you can show me, in the Conventions, where it defines "unlawful enemy combatant" and strips them of the rights and protections afforded under Geneva, I'd like to see it, because in 14 years of working with them I've never seen, nor been shown, that section.

I'd also like to see where one must be a member of a state army, or working in the support of an army fighting for/in the cause of a recognised state (which is how this law defines "lawful enemy combatant".

Because right now the Conventions require only the following, to guarantee POW status.

1: Bears arms openly
2: Has officers appointed over them.
3: Has a badge, uniform, or other identifiable insignia, recognisable at a distance.
4: Obeys the laws of war.

Further, those criteria are not always required (see levée en masse,, and spontaneous repsonse to invasion/attack).

You wan't to show me how things like the case of Padilla, or Hamdan, should lead me to believe that the accusation of possible status as ulawful enemy combatant being sufficient to deny habeas corpus being part of this law makes the repitition of such things (cf. Padilla where he was kept incommunicado, not allowed to speak to his attorney, and he a citizen, arrested on American soil and then not charged with the heinous crimes they said he had done, and was planning to do) less likely?

#68 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 09:10 PM:

Questions for DaveL:

Have you ever heard of Jose Padilla?

Are you aware that he is a US citizen, born in Brooklyn, NY, of Puerto Rican parents?

Are you aware that he was detained on US soil?

Are you aware that he was classified as an "enemy combatant"?

Are you aware that the information against Padilla came from torturing an insane man?

#69 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:10 PM:

Are you aware that the legislation is written to cover the general case?

This isn't a new policy; it's an attempt to escape legal jeopardy for something they're already doing.

How much?

Nobody knows.

To whom?

Nobody knows.

Where, and with what?

Nobody knows that, either.

That's one of the basic problems with people being disappeared; the folks disappearing them torture them until they get bored with it, kill them, and chuck them down a hole, and nobody ever knows. That's what was worth having that little war with Bad King John over, back in the day.

#70 ::: nobody ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:33 PM:

Marge and Homer Simpson sit in front of the tv, listening to the 'wakachicka.' Marge says, "You know, Fox turned into a hardcore porno channel so slowly I didn't even notice."

I don't understand the "It doesn't affect everybody, it only affects x" argument. Is it a step away from liberty? Then it's a step too far. Our ideals are supposed to apply to everyone.

It's not as though tomorrow we'll see the prez at the podium in a black helmet and respirator. But if we sell off our liberty one law at a time, then at some point we'll have nothing left.

The tyranny didn't start here. It didn't start with the Patriot Act, in Ohio, or with hanging chads. Some people point to FDR, some to even earlier. For me, I count from 1886, but that's neither here nor there.

Wherever it started, it has to stop somewhere.

#71 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 10:51 PM:

Poking about LiveJournal on http://bridgetminerva.livejournal.com/>

There was link to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13lGuuebvfg

All the President's Lies

It's an approximately ten minute long video clip from MSNBC hosted by Olbermann that is damning, going through the timeline and testimony and with documentation, showing the current Executive Branch's complete aversive allergic reaction to being willing to pay any attention to any warnings or alerts or concerns about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden until a mass disasrous attack that some of the people who tried to get the Executive Branch feared might happen, happened.

Richard Clarke tried with a complete lack of success to get the US Executive Branch to take Al Qaeda seriously as a threat and deal with the threat, from the very arrival of the current regime into office. There were also documents produced by the outgoing Clinton administration regarding the threat posed by Al Qaeda and dealing with it, that got ignored and pretended to not exist--much like the State Departments plans for adminstering Iraq?

This video is important.

(My apologies if someone else has already referenced it and given the particular URL or one with the same content).

#72 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 11:21 PM:

Part of the worry I held about this legislation has subsided for an odd, and possibly naive reason. I think this law exists to cover Bush's ass through the elections. The idea is to quietly convict all the people being held at quantanamo, admit torture evidence, supress defense lawyers, whatever it takes so that any more mentally retarded individuals dont show up on the evening news.

Yeah, the law is horrendous, and the law is terrible, and it grants massive powers for potential abuse, but I guess part of me dropped a level of concern because I don't think the main push for this legislation was to go after new folks as it was to keep the folks at Gitmo under wraps until after Nov 08.

Part of me has gone numb about this. probably not a good thing, but perhaps a response mechanism needed for simple survival.

#73 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2006, 11:43 PM:

I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like becoming an example of Godwin's law.

I deeply resent the way this administration's apologists makes me feel like becoming an example of Godwin's law.

I deeply resent the way people who can't take a strong moral stance against this administration makes me feel like becoming an example of Godwin's law.

#74 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:50 AM:

#50 ::: debcha :: "... Does due process actually apply to everyone? I know that the US government has certainly treated non-citizens in a way that belies this (like deporting them to third countries)."

As I understand it (IANAL), both statute & case law hold that everyone in places under U.S. jurisdiction is required to obey U.S. laws and is entitled to the protections associated with them -- with the exceptions of accredited Diplomats (who might or might not be exempt from some minor laws (see "double-parking in NYC")) and identified aliens (who seem to be subject to special regulations -- supposedly fair, but sometimes questionable -- regarding holding and deportation). How the problem of handling putative aliens who claim to be citizens might be handled, I haven't the faintest idea.

I note that much of the discussion of this new law hinges on a few words & some positioning -- which, I think, may possibly still be changed. And then there's the chance of a Presidential Signing Statement, which might introduce interesting "clarifications". My own feeling is that it's being done by Experts who are skilled in writing laws that look relatively innocuous, but will almost certainly be interpreted by Judges as having quite a broader and more rigorous application. Currently, my major worry is over the fact that we have a majority in Congress that has accepted the "relatively innocuous" provisions that are strikingly contrary to several basic American ideals and principles.


#75 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 10:04 AM:

JC: I'm not sure what strawmen I've erected, but your assertion that no one is claiming you can be "disappeared" under this law if you are a citizen is false. Just read the linked postings in the main post, for starters. I agree completely that one of the worst aspects of the law is that once you treat one class of people ("aliens") badly, the temptation if it "doesn't work" is to extend the treatment to other classes of people ("citizens").

Terry Karney: I agree 100%. The law redefines the GCs in a way that is at minimum troubling and probably unconstitutional. I even said so in an earlier post. I don't believe the Padilla case would be allowable under this law. I could be wrong. I disagree that it's an automatically slippery slope into treating "citizen unlawful combatants" like "alien" ones, especially in the matter of habeas corpus, but as I said just above, such things can happen: slippery slope is not always a risible argument, especially when cases like Padilla provide precedent. To be honest, I'd be more worried about the entirely constitutional permission to suspend habeas in case of "rebellion or invasion."

James D. MacDonald: I think I'm aware of all the points you list. Under this law, as I understand it, Jose Padilla could not be treated as he was. On the other hand, the law basically gives a free pass to those who treated him that way, which is shameful.

Greg London: I think your suspicion is largely correct. A main if not the main purpose of the law is to get everyone in the administration off the hook.

#76 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:45 PM:

Terry Karney (#54), Don Fitch (#72): Thank you for your responses clarifying the ambiguity of 'person' and 'citizen' in the Constitution.

Avram (#52), my quotation of Amendment 14 was prefaced by this (#50): 'Dumb question time: maybe I'm missing something here - as I understand it, non-citizens have never been protected by the Constitution,' and followed by a question asking for how due process for all and the way aliens are treated could be reconciled. That was certainly meant to indicate that I was confused and asking for information, not 'making a statement about what the Constitution has supposedly "never" done, and trying to back it up by quoting from an amendment written after the Civil War.'

#77 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Sorry, Debcha, but I thought the way you ended your question with a colon, and immediately followed with the quote from the 14th Amendment, implied that the quote was an illustration of a fact you were asserting in your question.

#78 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2006, 05:01 PM:

#73, DaveL: I'm not sure what strawmen I've erected,

You wrote (in #53):
I don't see how any of this (except the actual definition of "unlawful combatant") could be construed to apply to citizens.

This implies that someone had asserted that the sections which you had referenced (948c,d and later) did apply to citizens. I didn't read anything in the comments that made me think this.

What I did read was a lot of be people saying that because any citizen can be designated an unlawful enemy combatant, any citizen can then be treated like Jose Padilla. This has nothing to do with the sections of HR6166 which you had referenced (since the treatment of Jose Padilla predates HR6166).

your assertion that no one is claiming you can be "disappeared" under this law if you are a citizen is false

This would be because this was not what I had asserted. What I said was:
No one has said suggested that sections of HR6166 other than the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" apply to citizens beside you (and you suggested it only to demolish it.)

I hope that you can see that these are two different statements. It seemed to me that you were arguing vociferously that sections 948c and 948d didn't apply to citizens. I wanted to point out that there didn't seem to be any disagreement on this point.

The argument seems to be over whether section 948a, which everyone agrees applies to both citizens and non-citizens, is enough to abrogate the rights of citizens. In #73, you seem to admit that this is a possibility.

I'm glad to see you come around to this point of view.

#79 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 02:08 AM:

DaveL - these are snippets from the original bill, which I took as part of an effort to write a reasonable letter to my (Australian) Federal Member of Parliament, asking that Australia withdraw from alliance with the United States in protest at this bill.

The most chilling section is section 5:

SEC. 5. TREATY OBLIGATIONS NOT ESTABLISHING GROUNDS FOR CERTAIN CLAIMS.
(a) In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories.

Note the third and fourth words of the actual specification: No person. No specification about race, colour, creed, citizenship, status, or anything else. Nobody has the right to point to the Geneva Convention in relation to anything that has been done to them by anyone who has been on the payroll of the government of the United States of America. This includes the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Office of Homeland Security, and any other such body. Indeed the "or other agent" part of this specification is frighteningly loosely worded. Who defines who is and isn't an "other agent"?

From section 1, the definitions:

(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means--

`(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

`(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.

They then go on to define a "lawful" enemy combatant:

`(2) LAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- The term `lawful enemy combatant' means a person who is--

`(A) a member of the regular forces of a State party engaged in hostilities against the United States;

`(B) a member of a militia, volunteer corps, or organized resistance movement belonging to a State party engaged in such hostilities, which are under responsible command, wear a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry their arms openly, and abide by the law of war; or

`(C) a member of a regular armed force who professes allegiance to a government engaged in such hostilities, but not recognized by the United States.

Those are the ONLY people who are "lawful" enemy combatants. If you don't fit those categories, you're an unlawful enemy combatant - again, no specification of race, creed, colour, nationality, status or otherwise.

What's even more chilling is section 7.2:

`(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1005(e) of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (10 U.S.C. 801 note), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.'.

So you can't even appeal to an international court for judgement if you think that the nice people in the US armed forces (or customs, or the FBI, CIA, NSA, [insert acronym here] etc) have got things wrong. You're stuck with the judgement of the military tribunal.

I seem to remember something in your pledge of alliegiance which mentions "justice for all". It might be time to rewrite things just a little.

#80 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 09:13 AM:

JC writes: "The argument seems to be over whether section 948a, which everyone agrees applies to both citizens and non-citizens, is enough to abrogate the rights of citizens. In #73, you seem to admit that this is a possibility."

I don't think the current bill abrogates the rights of citizens. I think that if this bill "doesn't work" (by whatever definition the government promotes for that phrase) we might see a bill that attempts to extend H.6166's provisions to citizens.

Meg Thorton: No question that the "revision" of the GC is one of the worst aspects of the bill, both in terms of the "unlawful enemy combatant" definition and the abridgement of rights under the GC.

Today, what I find most interesting is that the Foley scandal and its fallout have completely eclipsed discussion of the MCA.

#81 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 10:40 AM:
Franklin Evans #58 'the government he "betrayed" came into existence after his defeat as a member of the losing army'
In the words of Maxwell Smart 'That old trick!': When Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII he immediately sought to backdate his administration to before the battle of Bosworth Field (22nd August, 1485) so he could attaint for treason men who had fought for the former King Richard of York, and obtain their lands and estates as rebels.
#82 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 12:51 PM:

DaveL: Today, what I find most interesting is that the Foley scandal and its fallout have completely eclipsed discussion of the MCA.

What are you, some kind of nutbar conspiracy theorist? (Oh, wait...) But seriously, I think it's a case of reaping the whirlwind.

#83 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 01:27 PM:

Nah, Texanne, I meant interesting in the sense of one or more of:

* sex > Bill of Rights
* attention span of mayfly > attention span of media

The only "conspiracy" involved is the likelihood that the release of the Foley stuff was delayed until as near the election as possible. That's "politics," not conspiracy.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Hmmm. What was it my grandpappy told me?

Oh, yeah:

"When ya git caught screwing the pooch, doncha go blaming the dog or the one who saw ya doing it."

#85 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Re: WWII in Yugoslavia. At one time or another the Ustachi, the Chetniks, and the Partisans all received arms from, and provided intelligence to, the Nazis. At one time or another each of those groups was allied with one or another of the others.

When WWII ended the Nazis left, and Tito (of the Partisans) remained. Tito wrote the history and made the laws.

Sometime soon I think I'll have to do a post about the Dirty War in Argentina. Fascinating history. Maybe I'll call that post "It Can't Happen Here...."

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 05:24 PM:

And after Tito, the volcanoes erupted.

#87 ::: Professor Zero ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2006, 11:47 PM:

"Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation"

This is great.

#88 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 07:10 AM:

Re #50, debcha:

as I understand it, non-citizens have never been protected by the Constitution
The Bill of Rights never uses the word "citizen", but speaks of "persons" such as "the accused" having rights.

[Fifth:] "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

[Sixth:] "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

By contrast, the right to vote and hold office is relevant to, and therefore restricted to, citizenship.

[Fifteenth] "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Clearly the Constitution does distinguish rights held by citizens alone (voting, holding office) from rights held by all, whether citizens or not; and most rights are *not* restricted to citizens.

The founding document of the USA declares this principle of universal rights:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
-- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
-- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, ...."

In turn, the Constitution of the United States also adheres to that principle, by speaking of "persons" rather than "citizens" not only in the Bill of Rights, but also in the Fourteenth Amendment:

"... nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

That's not restricted to citizens. The Supreme Court spelled this out, in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 US 356

"The rights of the petitioners, as affected by the proceedings of which they complain, are not less because they are aliens and subjects of the emperor of China. ... The fourteenth amendment to the constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. It says: 'Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' These provisions are universal in their application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality; and the equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws."

A more recent Supreme Court ruling, Zadvydas v. Davis (2001), said that "the Due Process Clause applies to all persons within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent."

The Constitution protects due process for citizen and foreigner alike.

Go back even further, to ex parte Milligan (1866):

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances."

The idea that foreigners have no rights is itself foreign to the American Constitution and Declaration of Independence. It is UN-American.

#89 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 07:27 AM:

I may possibly disappear myself for writing this, and I hope my cross-posting it here will not cause our hosts to be detained or interrogated, but I thought it possible some of you might enjoy it, at least as catharsis.

In a thread over on Shakespeare's Sister, discussing just how hard the Democrats should fight the Republicans this year, Kirby wrote:

In 2000, I wanted to see a naked and bloody Al Gore standing on the steps of the White House with Bush's head on a pike. So no, nothing Dems do to fight back now would bother me.
That was such a vivid image that it called up heroic verses in my head. I posted them there, but had to break them into groups due to Haloscan's limits. I thought a clean copy might be accepted here. (If not, Dear Editors, please delete from here down, and just leave the above text with links.)

                    GORE'S SAGA

Foul was the faring to ford the Potomac;
Wretches had ruined the river's pure flow.
Deep was the darkness as desperate heroes
Sought through the city to slay their fell foe.

Drastic the deeds that had drawn them all thither,
Tragic the tale of that terrible time:
Fate had enfeebled the freedom of many,
Parting the people from power by crime.

Once had the wonderful way of the nation
Settled succession by seeking fair test;
Now had the numbers been not truly noted,
Liars had laughed as they libelled the best.

Gore had the greater of groups voting for him,
Only if honesty honored the counts.
Fewer would follow a felon hight Dubya —
His were the henchmen that hid the amounts.

Dark was the day that this Dubya took power,
Woeful the world under wicked men's rule:
Terror attacking could topple a tower,
Dubya would do naught but dabble at school.

Past all his prating of pet goats to children,
Courage he could not have claimed and been true.
Fearfully fled he from first sign of danger,
Crept into caverns well covered from view.

Scorned as a shivering, snivelling coward,
Laid he the lie that made loyal men gag:
He was a hero as hearty as any,
Wrapped in a robe of the royal war-flag.

Posing and prancing, this parody-hero
Sped to the sites that his sloth had betrayed,
Spoke of his strength and the speed of his vengeance,
Waved men to war... but then went home and played.

Further this failure would fetter his subjects:
Patriots, pled he, would pledge him their creed.
Bills he embellished to buttress his power;
Sign here, he said, do not seek first to read.

Soon, at his summons, like serfs were his people,
Terror and torture the tools of his trade;
Merely his marking out men made them vanish,
Pass into prisons he privily made.

Far from the field of this fetid corruption,
Loving the land and yet loathing its lord,
Hearing the horrors that had thus befallen,
Gore listens grimly, while grinding his sword.

Long, but no longer, I've left off my vengeance!
Strong, but no stronger, that snaveling's role!
Weak, but no weaker henceforth, will my party
Pry back the power that prattler stole!

Blows he a blast on his bellicose war-horn,
Trump-call whose tremors would trammel a foe;
Friends, though, it finds, and they fleetly come forward,
Swords, shields, and spears by their sides as they go.

Swift was their sight of the city benighted,
Quiet and quick was their crossing the ford.
Wrathful and ruthless, they wreaked their hard justice,
Few folk could flee from the fierce spear and sword.

Liars there lay with their lips for once truthful,
Cowards and caitiffs lay calmly at last;
Traitorous torturers' tools turned against them,
Paying back pain they had plied in the past.

Screams arose, scaring the scabrous still-living,
Panicing pundits and pollsters who'd slept;
Hacks and louts huddled in hideous terror,
Goplin-folk gripped little green balls and wept.

Where's Rum and Wolf-o'-wits, where is Gonzales,
Architects ardent of arduous wars?
Seek ye the secrets they sought to hide ever,
Cells they concealed, tighter sealed now than jars.

What of the worst of them, wily Dick Cheney,
Karl the Accurséd, and coarse liar Rush?
Brains they had boasted, and bellies fat-laden;
Stop by the swine-pens and sniff at the mush.

What of the wicked and wastrel man Dubya?
Fear not, my folk, here's the finish you'll love.
Gore went and got him, and gives us a trophy:
See, there he stands, with his spear held above.

Bare now and bloodied, but bowing to no man,
Proud of his people and pure in his cause,
Bears he the burden above on his spearpoint,
Proof that no prince safely poisons our laws.

Doom that he dreaded found Dubya the Dumbwad:
Hoisted his head was on high-waving spear;
Gutters were glutted with guts of his goplins.
Glory to Gore, all our griefs disappear!


 
#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 09:04 AM:

The image of a gore-soaked Gore is quite striking.

#91 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 10:21 AM:

Raven, that's a stroke of genius. Now picturing a world in which the Heroic Saga remains the chief medium of storytelling and oratory... so far I've got as far as imagining competing political websites such as goforth.org, Instaskald.com and TPMMeadhall.com. Also, network evening news would be rather more interesting.

#92 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 11:57 AM:

Raven #87: Hw�t?

#93 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 01:23 PM:

Re #89, ajay:

Thank you. [bows] Don't forget to visit BardCop.com, too.

Re #90, Fragano Ledgister:

Oh, at least 3/4, or even 7/8, I should think.

But in modern English (within sound of Bow Bells), one would drop the H, thus:
'Ello, 'ello, 'wæt's all this then?

#94 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 01:47 PM:

Re #89, ajay:

In the subgenre of SF we might call "Time Wars" (where competing groups send agents back and forth through time to change history to their own advantage), one novel — I think it was Fritz Leiber's The Big Time, though I wouldn't have put this past Poul Anderson, either — has a Time Agent reporting back to the team leader in heroic verse, concluding with the line:

It is nothing but a tiny  tactical atomic bomb.
I've got to look up that piece again; it was coool.
 

#95 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:37 PM:

Re #89, ajay:

And not to be missed — "The Death of Bowie Gizzardsbane" (an early scene in Silverlock by John Myers Myers) — a heroic saga of all the warrior virtues as shown in the hopeless defense... of the Alamo.

Harsh was the hearing for Houston the Raven;
Fools had enfeebled the fortress at Bexar....
Obviously that second line had stuck in my head and came back out in "Gore's Saga" as —
Fate had enfeebled the freedom of many....
— though my piece anachronistically uses some end-rhymes as well as the original alliterative ("head-rhyme") scheme.
 

#96 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 03:45 PM:

And I must confess that the tune for "Streets of Laredo" kept running through my mind, to help me keep to the rhythm.

#97 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2006, 04:48 PM:

Raven #91: I was born in south Kensington....

#98 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 03:48 AM:

In tangentally related news, a federal grand jury has returned an indictment for -treason- against an American member of al-Qaeda.

Why should this be surprising? Because the charge of treason presumes a state of war, and currently there is no state of war — except rhetorically.

Under the Constitution, treason is defined as giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States, and "enemy" means a state against which the United States has declared war.

Since the end of World War Two, the US has not declared war against any state. Even the so-called "war on terror" has not featured a literal declaration of war; nor is al-Qaeda a state.

This appears to be an attempt to get a state of war legally presumed without its being actually declared by Congress (the only body authorized to declare war).

More, since the American so charged has not been accused of any act of violence, but only of appearing in propaganda videotapes, there's a real question of how slippery that slope is, and how quickly "treason" might be applied to critics of the Administration — legally, and not just rhetorically as it already has been for the past five years.

#99 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:42 AM:

Fragano #95: is that an assertion of fact, or the first line of another epic? (Possibly it would work as part of the heroic verse adaptation of "The Napoleon of Notting Hill".)

Kensington made me, Kensington fed me,
Whatever I had she gave me again,
And the best of Kensington loved and led me --
God be with you, Kensington men!

#100 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 08:20 AM:

Well, the BBC have revived Robin Hood, although for us old fogeys who were weaned on Richard Greene's version influenced by refugees from the Hollywood blacklist, it seems a bit lacking in something.

We know who Robin Hood is. We don't need another slow, step-by-step, description of why he is. You can bring out that in the story-telling.

Even the Disney cartoon, with all the dodgy accents and faked folk songs, did it better. Robin Hood as the trickster, and pitching you straight into Sherwood.

Heck, the Disney cartoon makes Kevin Costner's performance look two-dimensional.

But I've also been reminded that Uma Thurman has played Marion, and now I find myself wondering what would happen if Robin and Marion were trapped at the Church by bad guys: not so much Kill Bill as Gut Gisborne. Look at the big duel sequence at the end of The Adventures of Robin Hood, and change the characters a bit.

Aren't you glad that I'm not Quentin Tarentino.

#101 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 10:21 AM:

Re #98, Dave Bell:

... now I find myself wondering what would happen if Robin and Marion were trapped at the Church by bad guys....
It's been done — as slapstick — in the opening scene of Maid Marian by Thomas Love Peacock:
The leader strode up to the altar; and placing himself opposite to the abbot, and between the earl and Matilda, in such a manner that the four together seemed to stand on the four points of a diamond, exclaimed, "In the name of King Henry, I forbid the ceremony, and attach Robert Earl of Huntingdon as a traitor!" and at the same time he held his drawn sword between the lovers, as if to emblem that royal authority which laid its temporal ban upon their contract. The earl drew his own sword instantly, and struck down the interposing weapon; then clasped his left arm round Matilda, who sprang into his embrace, and held his sword before her with his right hand. His yeomen ranged themselves at his side, and stood with their swords drawn, still and prepared, like men determined to die in his defence. The soldiers, confident in superiority of numbers, paused. The abbot took advantage of the pause to introduce a word of exhortation. "My children," said he, "if you are going to cut each other's throats, I entreat you, in the name of peace and charity, to do it out of the chapel."

... The earl's bowmen at the door sent in among the assailants a volley of arrows, one of which whizzed past the ear of the abbot, who, in mortal fear of being suddenly translated from a ghostly friar into a friarly ghost, began to roll out of the chapel as fast as his bulk and his holy robes would permit, roaring "Sacrilege!" with all his monks at his heels, who were, like himself, more intent to go at once than to stand upon the order of their going. The abbot, thus pressed from behind, and stumbling over his own drapery before, fell suddenly prostrate in the door-way that connected the chapel with the abbey, and was instantaneously buried under a pyramid of ghostly carcasses, that fell over him and each other, and lay a rolling chaos of animated rotundities, sprawling and bawling in unseemly disarray, and sending forth the names of all the saints in and out of heaven, amidst the clashing of swords, the ringing of bucklers, the clattering of helmets, the twanging of bow-strings, the whizzing of arrows, the screams of women, the shouts of the warriors, and the vociferations of the peasantry, who had been assembled to the intended nuptials, and who, seeing a fair set-to, contrived to pick a quarrel among themselves on the occasion, and proceeded, with staff and cudgel, to crack each other's skulls for the good of the king and the earl.
I also highly recommend The Misfortunes of Elphin, by the same author, with the wonderful "War-Song of Dinas Vawr" in chapter XI — "the quintessence of all the war-songs that ever were written, and the sum and substance of all the appetencies, tendencies, and consequences of military glory."

#102 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 10:29 AM:

"He took castles and towns, he cut short limbs and lives,
He made orphans and widows of children and wives,
This course many years he triumphantly ran
And did mischief enough to be called a great man."

#103 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 11:55 AM:

Raven #99: I wonder if anyone has empirically tested the assertion that the mountain sheep are sweeter but the valley sheep are fatter, and that, therefore, it is meeter to carry off the latter?

#104 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:13 PM:

Fragano, there's a subjective priority involved: the eternal quality-vs-quantity debate.

#105 ::: Dave Luckett sees more spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:25 PM:

101: Fragano, being Welsh by ancestry, my race memory is unreservedly of the opinion that the mountain sheep are tougher and the valley sheep aren't thinner; the landlords get much gruffer if we have the last for dinner.

But then I come from the south, where we only sang pitrituals*.

*sorta like spirituals, but done in blackface**
**coalminers, you know.

#106 ::: Dave Luckett doesnt't see it, sorry, he's an idiot. ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:27 PM:

AAArgh!

#107 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:34 PM:

On the face of it, I would have thought that the limiting factor would be your own carrying capacity. Therefore, maximise your utility by going for, say, half a ton of mountain sheep, rather than half a ton of valley sheep.

However, 'carry off' is probably a metaphor - the sheep are probably going to be herded away on the hoof. Therefore, as it is easier to herd a smaller number of sheep, go for the valley sheep, as giving (probably) a higher payoff per head. It's difficult to say whether a small, high-quality sheep has higher utility than a fat, low-quality sheep.

And, of course, mountain sheep will be trickier to catch, as they will probably roam over large areas of poor quality land, rather than being penned in fields.

So I would say "valley sheep", unless these mountain sheep are exceptional. More research is indicated. Perhaps a tasting contest?

Next question: was it sensible of the MacPherson to go to war with only 24 foot soldiers and 35 pipers? Is this tooth-to-tail ratio a) efficient and b) typical of Highland war of the period? Discuss the relative fighting efficiency of a ghillie and a dhuinewassail. Given that the Clan MacPherson appears to have ended up with all the cattle, can this be described as a strategic victory (despite the death of the MacPherson himself and, presumably, his three followers)?

#108 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:36 PM:

Pituitral: slow, mournful song of a religious nature, sung by very, very tall men.

#109 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:40 PM:

Ah, but what about the wool? Is mountain sheep wool of a nicer or less nice quality than valley sheep wool? Knitters want to know!

#110 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Dave Luckett #103: That raises the question of what it is that Shirley Bassey sings.

#111 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Raven #102: While normative sheep might or might not be tasty, I tend to prefer empirical mutton.

#112 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 01:00 PM:

Ajay #97: It's a statement of fact. I rather like that verse.

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Ajay #105: The answer to that would depend on the grumpiness of the Grampians (though it might be thought a MacPyrrhic victory). However, I would be interested in researching the proper ratio of water to Glenlivet and would, therefore, appreciate it if a disinterested foundation would fund this absolutely essential research.

#114 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Nancy, I'd think the mountain sheep would have better wool, because of the cooler temperatures. Unless they're like the sheep around the Horseshoe Pass, which show up at the rustle of a chip bag...

#115 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:23 PM:

Raven #99:

Thank you. Somebody has finally put forth a useful argument for the existence of TLP.

#116 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 05:24 PM:

Raven #96

Can't you be treasonous without being at war?

#117 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 06:08 PM:

Fragano Legister at 108,

You ask about what Shirley Bassey sings; where do I begin?

PJ, does the diet count? If cats get fat and glossy, do sheep?

#118 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 06:09 PM:

It is quite possible to be treasonous when the country is not officially at war. Whether one wants to pursue that particular boojum is another issue.

#119 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 06:34 PM:

Nancy C, I am famous elsewhere for providing flat, factual answers that kill poetry and fancy quite dead, but the answer is that sheep who get more protein have better wool.

#120 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2006, 06:36 PM:

I don't know if those sheep were getting more protein, but they certainly were getting more junk food!

#121 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 01:36 AM:

joann: (114) Treasonous, yes. Guilty of actual treason, probably not.

US Constitution:

Article III, Section 3

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

Now, it may not require a declaration of war to be an enemy of the United States, and so treason might take place at any time, but getting the requisite two witnesses of, "the same overt act," might be tough. Since one cannot be compelled to testify against oneself, the latter requirement is hard to meet, unless one volunteers to take the stand, which is only going to be needful in the event of two witnesses.

Oddly enough, the ruse of the bill just passed (but not yet signed) is such that it can't be used to make this charge a slam dunk.

A non-citizen cannot, by definition, commit treason, and the compelled testimony (by way of coerced confessions) cannot be used against a citizen; being limited to unlawful enemy combatants.

So, fiat might take place, with the president declaring someone to be an unlawful enemy combatant, and then arranging a kangaroo court, but the treason charge won't be entered.

#122 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:25 AM:

Considering the "giving aid and comfort" element, the GOP seems to be a prime example of "if treason prospers".

#123 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:52 AM:

Fragano - thanks. It's not original, unfortunately - it's a modification of an embarrassingly bombastic original by Hilaire Belloc.

http://www.pluckerbooks.com/works/morleyc/shandygaff/chapter15.html

(about halfway down)


And if the way my guys shoot on the ranges is typical, Welsh mountain sheep are under significant selection pressure to develop Kevlar wool. Which would have terrific commercial applications, but would make them a bugger to shear.

#124 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 09:02 AM:

Nancy C #115: Not with Goldfinger, I hope.

#125 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 09:03 AM:

Tom Whitmore #116: That's one of the snarkiest posts I've read here.

#126 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 12:04 PM:

A friend of mine sent a note the other day about the day-care that she was checking out for her toddler. After a few rounds of hustling the children from one activity station to the next, and a break for snacks, it was Patriotic Time: "Patriotic Marching, to Patriotic March Music, while waving American Flags. 20% of the class time is marching in a circular parade and waving flags. Then the children all sit and do a 15-minute whirl-wind tour of Approved American Preschool Action Songs, to calm everyone down after the emotion-laden patriotism."

To me, living in a friendly neighboring country, this is freaking scary.

#127 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 12:39 PM:

Joel Polowin: To me, living in that country, it's freaking scary.

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Joel, what Terry said. Wow. They might as well teach the kids to goosestep and wave...well, not to exemplify Godwin, but "gules, on a plate a fylfot per saltire sable."

#129 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Xopher, shouldn't it be:

Gules, on a plate argent, a fylfot per saltire sable

I thought all the colors had to be specified?

#130 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 02:38 PM:

Lori (#127): By the most common heraldic definitions, a plate is implicitly argent -- it's a short way of writing "a roundel argent". There are other specific terms for roundels of other colours.

Joel

#131 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Oh, and that should be "saltirewise", indicating the slantwise orientation of the charge, rather than "per saltire", which would indicate that something is divided slantwise.

Joel

#132 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 03:37 PM:

Xopher/Lori/Joel, I have seen roundels named with these tinctures: plate → argent/silver, bezant → Or/gold, pellet → sable/black, pome → vert/green, hurt → azure/blue, golp → purpure/purple, torteau or cherry → gules/red. There are also some pre-defined parti-coloured roundels, such as the fountain (barry wavy azure and argent). I don't have an heraldic dictionary handy, but that would be the place to find such terms.

#133 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 03:41 PM:

Okay, here's a 1950 Oxford text (PDF) mentioning some other variant roundel names. I'm not going to try transcribing it.

#134 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 03:49 PM:

Followup to #96, on the idea that critics might be lumped with "supporters of terrorists" and thus "traitors"....

Anti-war groups including Quakers have already been put on the military anti-terrorist database TALON.

Story HERE. So how long until they get charged with treason?

#135 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:04 PM:

another place to see roundels with engravings

(Cyndi's List strikes again)

#136 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:08 PM:

Fragano, if I'm impressing you as snarky, I'm very deeply honored! Here, I merely thought it was sinple fact.

#137 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 04:23 PM:

Re #134, Tom Whitmore, I think you missed Fragano's literary reference.

Review your #116's "that particular boojum".

In the midst of my laughter and glee, I'll now softly and suddenly
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#138 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Tom Whitmore #134: See Raven's comment #135.

#139 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2006, 11:09 PM:

Reference or not (and yes, I quote the Snark at almost every opportunity), I'm still honored.

#140 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 11:29 AM:

What a waste of time it was to discuss the niceties of US law, when all that turns out to be irrelevant.

Here's real life, folks.   American citizen.   Held by American military forces.   Who take him to an Iraqi court and demand his execution.   "But there's no evidence against him," says the Iraqi magistrate, who would have dismissed the charges.   The American military take the magistrate into the back room, away from the defendant, his attorney, and public view.   Time passes.   They come out.   The Iraqi magistrate orders the American citizen's execution.   No trial had taken place.

On Tuesday, George W Bush will sign the Torture Bill, which incidentally "purports to terminate the writ of habeas corpus for US detainees overseas" — such as the above American citizen in American military custody, sentenced to death without trial.

Who's next?

#141 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Raven @ 138

I would like to wish the ghosts of the dead in Iraq to visit Bushco, and the ghost of that American (when the execution takes place, if, Ghu forbid, it does) in particular on Bushco and on the military who apparently threatened the judge with Ghu-knows-what. Then they can have a nice trip to the Hague.

This is not the country I was raised in.

#142 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2006, 03:51 PM:

'Once upon a time there was a republic...'

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