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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

watch it: “Ain’t No Gas Price High Enough”

Cuz oil just hit $100 a barrel

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  • I say bring it on. Let OPEC start trading oil for currencies other than the dollar. Let the gas companies have their day. Anything that increases the effective price of gas at the pump in the United States necessarily hastens the arrival of alternative energy sources. It’s a matter of time, money, and desire.

  • Vergil

    *Politely applauds Bob*

  • Vergil

    I may hate myself in the morning, but I can’t leave it without making at least two points: First – the Ozone Hole has very little to do with gas consumption. There is a slight possibility that global warming may start to have an effect on the ozone in the atmosphere, but at that point the Ozone Hole will be the least of our worries. Second – the gas companies may be detestable SOBs, but no more than any other large corporate group. Just because they have made record profits when compared to their own yearly profits lately, the average for the industry when compared to other types of industries is just…well, average.

  • MaryAnn

    Part of the problem with the oil companies being detestable SOBs is that now that we have oil men in the White House, their detestable SOBness is heartily approved from the top. There’s no incentive to move to renewable/clean energy when the people making the policy are profitting from the status quo.

    And yes, I would love to see the American populace awakened to the reality of the oil situation, and I do literally cringe to see people proudly driving Hummers. But in the meantime, energy-efficient me, who walks or takes mass transit everywhere and only occasionally rents a (fuel-efficient) car is seeing the price of everything I have to buy in the supermarket jumping up, thanks in great part to the increased cost of getting that stuff there. No matter how socially conscious you are, no matter how many locally grown veggies you buy at the greenmarket, you’re still impacted by the price of gas.

    Which just jumped to $3.33 for regular unleaded at the BP two blocks away.

  • Vergil

    The thought of oilmen in the White House is a scary one. And yet, somehow we have survived. I suppose it is partly due to Americans traditionally voting one pary for the Presidency and another for the Congress. We’ve kept em at pretty much a stalemate. Hooray for the status quo! Do you realize that you berate the oil companies in the same breath that you complain about gas prices? We have nearly the cheapest gas prices of anyone else in the world. Yay for the status quo!

  • MaryAnn

    somehow we have survived.

    Have we? The Constution has been eviscerated, and no one seems to care. I’m not sure that can be called “surviving.”

    We have nearly the cheapest gas prices of anyone else in the world.

    Because we pay the least amount of taxes on the gas. In Europe, high gas taxes go to pay for mass transit and other infrastructure. Not so here. Plus our cheap gas prices haven’t prevented the oil companies from making obscene profits.

    So boo for the status quo.

  • Vergil

    The Constitution is alive and well. Of course, there are some minor quibbles, but there always have been and always will be. What is so obscene about profits? I think you have fallen for the hype. Once again…Oil Company profits are AVERAGE for corporations. The Medical and Legal guys are the ones making the obscene profits.

  • It’s pointless to complain about corporations making money. Corporations exist to make money, so we shouldn’t get mad at them for making too much. We also shouldn’t expect corporations to be socially responsible of their own volition, because that costs money, which forces them to raise their prices, and then competitors can undercut them and drive them out of business. Yes, there are some exceptions, but they are, well, exceptional. Scolding companies for hurting society or the environment may be emotionally gratifying, but it only distracts from attempts to bring real change. If we want companies to act differently, we should pass laws forcing them to do so. Anything less is so much sound and fury. Of course, the problem with that is, as Maryann said, our leaders are in thrall to the same special interests. What we really need, as far as I can see, is public financing of elections. I’m not sure how exactly that would work, but I do know that legislators are unable to stand up to corporations because that’s who pays for their elections. Remove them from the decision-making process, and we as citizens can finally have a real debate about what’s best for society. Read Robert Reich’s Supercapitalism if you want more on this subject.

    “I suppose it is partly due to Americans traditionally voting one pary for the Presidency and another for the Congress. We’ve kept em at pretty much a stalemate.”

    I assume you’re not counting 2001-2006? There weren’t exactly a lot of checks and balances at work back then, and Bush-Cheney have done all they can to further weaken the other two branches. The best example is when the Congress passed a veto proof torture ban. Bush signed it, but then said that, as Commander-in-Chief, he had the inherent power to decide whether torture was appropriate, and Congress had no right to interfere, so he’d still let soldiers torture when necessary. It’s called a signing statement, and he didn’t invent them, but he’s used them nearly twice as much as all previous presidents combined. Yeah, the Constitution is alive and well.

    More specifically: yes, higher gas taxes, assuming they go to developing alternatives. I try to take the bus whenever I can, but public transportation isn’t near as efficient here as in New York. I have to be at work too early for it to be a practical alternative.

  • MaryAnn

    The Constitution is alive and well. Of course, there are some minor quibbles

    Well, I hope President Bush never decides that you said something that gives support to terrorists, names you an enemy of the state, and imprisons you without charge indefinitely without allowing you access to a lawyer. Because he has declared that he can do that, and with the Congress and the Supreme Court bending over for him, there appears to be no one who can stop him.

    But those are minor Constituional quibbles, really.

  • Vergil

    It has always been illegal to support terrorists. The pendulum has just swung a bit in one direction. It will be back. And he has NOT declared that he can imprison me without charge indefinitely. The Constitution protects me. Not Non-U.S. Citizens. Not that I think it’s okay, but it’s NOT a Constitutional issue.

  • Vergil

    I suppose it is too simple to say “it is not a constitutional issue”. However, the complexities have been hashed out (and will again no doubt. The constitution, despite what radicals on both sides claim, is an evergreen document…constantly being defined and clarified.) the governement has once again made the right decision. Damn, what a great country!

  • “But perhaps the most important provision of all in the Military Commissions Act concerned the president’s power to seize American citizens as enemy combatants. In the Hamdi case, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that the president had the power to imprison without trial a citizen seized on a foreign battlefield, allegedly fighting U.S. troops and U.S. allies alongside the Taliban an Al Qaeda. In the Padilla case, a federal appeals court extended that presidential power to a U.S. citizen arrested on U.S. soil while allegedly planning terrorist attacks. But the Supreme Court had never decided whether the Padilla ruling was correct. Now it wouldn’t have to. Pouring reinforced cement around the Hamdi and Padilla precedents, Congress locked down the president’s power to arrest U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and imprison them in a military brig without a trial if he or she thinks they pose a terror threat. In fact, Congress went even further than the Bush-Cheney administration had: Under the Military Commissions Act, the president can seize citizens as enemy combatants even if they have nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Instead, an enemy combatant can be anyone who ‘has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.’

    “Under this broad definition, the president can potentially imprison without trial any citizen who is accused of donating money to a Middle East charity that the government decides is linked to a terrorist group. The president can potentially imprison without trial citizens who are associated with militant fringe groups, such as the left-wing Black Panthers and the right-wing militia movement. The president could even imprison without trial citizens accused of helping domestic terrorists, such as the rural mountain dwellers of North Carolina who are suspected of helping Eric Rudolph, the abortion-clinic bomber, survive as a fugitive for five years. Yale’s Bruce Ackerman wrote that the election-year bill amounted to a ‘massive congressional expansion of the class of enemy combatants.’ And the Military Commissions Act, he warned, could ‘haunt all of us on the morning after the next terrorist attack’ by paving the way for a new round of heavy-handed mass detentions, such as the military imprisonment of Japanese-Americans.

    “The Military Commissions Act, in short, was revolutionary. And when placed alongside all the other powers that the Bush-Cheney administration had seized for the presidency during the preceding six years, it became the crowning achievement of the project to expand executive power- embracing and entrenching many of the new presidential powers in statute.”

    Savage, Charlie. Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2007. pg. 321-322.

    You’re looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, my friend.

  • MaryAnn

    Thanks, Jurgan. I think many, many people truly do not understand that the entire foundation of the United States has been pulled out from under our feet. (Abuses of habeus corpus were among the primary impetuses for the Declaration of Independence.)

    And our Constitution applies, in most cases, to “persons.” Not “citizens” alone:
    “persons.” I believe only the language about who may vote and run for president limits those particular rights and protections of the Constitutions to “citizens.”

    Bush wants unlimited powers during a time of war, and he’s invented a “war” that can never end. There can be no treaty signing to end a “war on terror.” So anyone who wants to compare what Bush has done to the civil rights abuses that happened during the Civil War or WWII needs to remember that. There will be no V Day for us.

  • Vergil

    Once again MaryAnn, you have listened to those who agree with you instead of doing the research yourself. The Supreme Court did NOT say that Hamdi could be held without Habeas Corpus. Just the opposite. As far as the Military Commisions Act, there is no cement involved. The highest legal scholars cannot even agree on what exactly it means. The Act is written, but definition is still to take place. It will be challenged in Court one day where it should be. Mister Charlie Savage obviously has some books to sell, so he is going to twist the words around. Of course this is easy to do since the issue is extremely complicated. We are having to define terms which have been in the past taken for granted. What exactly is a “Citizen”? What is “War”? What is an Enemy Combatant? How long is too long? These are terms hashed out in a Courts of Law because to leave it in the hands of knee jerk activists would be disaster. If you take a step back and look at the realities of the situation you may see that the Government in not, in fact, arresting and detaining U.S. Citizens en mass. In WWII when you were captured, you did not expect a trial. You were a prisoner of war. The “soldiers” we are now fighting have no Government to negotiate with. They have signed no Geneva convention. They have changed the rules and we are having to adjust our laws accordingly. In Hamdi’s case, here is a guy fighting with the Taliban and here are people devoting their lives to making sure his civil rights are observed. What a wonderful country!

  • MaryAnn

    Vergil, your trust in government is breathtaking. I’m not willing to wait until the government is arresting citizens en masse before I complain. And I’m not willing to engage in convenient semantics to allow our government to do whatever it wants for whatever reasons it wants. Regardless of whether “terrorists” have signed the Geneva Conventions, we HAVE, and we’re supposed to be the good guys. We’re supposed to be better than those we’re fighting.

    What are we supposedly fighting for, if not for our principles of freedom and justice?

    In Hamdi’s case, here is a guy fighting with the Taliban and here are people devoting their lives to making sure his civil rights are observed. What a wonderful country!

    Yes. Exactly. If our justice system does not apply to everyone, then it does not apply to anyone. Or are only some people not given the benefit of the assumption of innocence until proven guilty by the criminal justice system?

  • Vergil

    MaryAnn, the “slippery-Slope” arguement is no more reasonable here as when the NRA wackos use it. And who are the people saying the government should do whatever it wants whenever it wants? Again, these chicken little hysterics only draw attention away from the real problems. The Geneva Conventions are another place that interpreting and defining are still going on. However, despite questions of appplicability by some, we are still following them. And our justice system DOES NOT apply to everyone. There are a hundred and eighty some odd other sovereign states out their who rightly have their own systems. So as much as we like, the same laws cannot be applied to citizens of other countries as our own. That is why our Constitution does not, CANNOT, apply to non-US citizens. We can afford them the same rights if we like, but not the same constitutional protections.

  • Vergil

    After doing some reasearch, I must stand partially corrected. The courts have ruled that some provisions apply to persons on US soil. This makes sense. However, that does not mean that non-US citizens are afforded the SAME protections by the Constitution. Whether or not is should is a matter of debate. As a matter of practicality I still contend that it cannot.

    MaryAnn, my “faith” in the Government comes not from some hypothetical potential, but what I see around me. Most liberals only compare the Government to some Utopian Ideal, but I try to compare it to reality. Other governments, past governments, how bad it COULD be. Yes, we have taken a few small steps back in recent years (which is to be expected after 9-11), but overall the trend has been improvement. I have just been reading about Kissinger and Nixon, and if the U.S. can survive them then it can certainly survive Dubya. Despite what Jurgan thinks I do not see the world through rose colored glasses, but I do not see the world through polarizing black and white ones either.

  • MaryAnn

    who are the people saying the government should do whatever it wants whenever it wants?

    The Bush Administration.

    Most liberals only compare the Government to some Utopian Ideal

    I don’t believe our Constitution is nothing but a “utopian ideal,” but then I’m not among the people trashing it.

  • Vergil

    The Constitution is “eviscerated”? The Bush Administration says the Government should do “whatever it wants?” How do you have a rational discussion with someone using this type of hyperbole?

    The Constitution is not a Utopian Ideal, but the idea that that it is “perfect” is. It is not a black and white, one-size-fits-all Gospel from the Mouth of God. If it was we wouldn’t need a Supreme Court. We wouldn’t need 27 amendments with the option for more.

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, Vergil, the Bush Administration has asserted that it can do whatever the hell it wants, laws of the land aside. Google “Bush signing statements” for starters, or check out this link from the looney left-wing rag The Boston Globe:

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws/

    I’m not engaging in hyperbole, Vergil. This shit is happening now. I never said the Constitution was perfect, and yes, there are provisions for changing it. Those provisions do not include the president doing so unilaterally, and defying the limitations that document expressly constrains him with.

    And as far as American ideals applying only to “citizens” or to everyone, either the rights the Founding Fathers were talking about really are inalienable, or they aren’t, and can be ignored when inconvenient. I happen to believe that human rights are indeed “human” rights, and not merely “American” ones.

  • AJP

    I would point out that signing statements are not something that the Bush administration created, most Presidents have used them, dating back to James Monroe. Bush 43 has used them more than other Presidents, but the only real reason they have become a big deal is that it is being reported now, and many people didn’t previously realize that this sort of practice was engaged in.

    The real reason that signing statements aren’t really that big of a concern is that they aren’t binding as a change in law – one would only have to invoke Marbury v. Madison to establish a signing statement as being merely persuasive and not a binding interpretation. Courts may give as particular statement deference, so long as that statement doesn’t prove to be actually contrary to the Constution or law. Of all the things to worry about concerning government, signing statements should probably rank about 937th on the list.

    I would also point out that most rights guaranteed under the Constitution are guaranteed to persons, not citizens. Only a handful are restricted in their guarantees to “citizens” (mostly involving voting rights). The argument sometimes advanced that various civil protections are limited to “citizens” is pretty much baseless.

  • MaryAnn

    Bush has also determined that he can declare martial law and suspend the Constitution as he see fit. He’s also determined that he can eavesdrop on American citizens with no due process. And cease our assets with no due process.

    But I guess I’m just being a silly billy to be concerned about this.

    I really, really want to believe that everyone who isn’t worried about what this administration has done is correct. I really, really do.

  • Vergil

    We can hash out Bush and the Constitution, but short and sweet point to me where the sky is falling? I see a few acorns here and there, but on the whole the process is working pretty well.

  • Vergil

    AJP, I’ll concede the point about my citizenship providing more protection (because it is, as I said, debatable), but that really wasn’t my point. The Constitution is still protecting me pretty much as it has my entire life.

    “Of all the things to worry about concerning government, signing statements should probably rank about 937th on the list.”

    Amen to that. Even if Bush says he can do whatever he wants (as MaryAnn contends), that is a far cry from being able to do whatever he wants. I think she has the impression that I’m defending Bush. Not at all. I just think all of the panicking will probably do more harm than good. Just as it is the Administrations panicking about 9-11 which is causing some harm also.

  • AJP

    Well, he may have decided that he thinks he could declare martial law, but he hasn’t. And he may have decided that he can suspend the Constitution, but that is being contested in the courts – and the executive branch has had a lousy track record of sucessfuly arguing things like that. The system is designed to get in the way of pronouncements like that, and it seems to be doing what it is supposed to.

    If you are worried about the government seizing assets without due process, welcome to the 1980s. Asset forfeiture is not new, and has been wildly abused for at least the last two decades, if not more. It gets more notice now because it is reported, but this practice has been a plague used by every administration since at least Reagan.

    I’m not saying “don’t be worried”. I’m saying that most of the things Bush is doing aren’t new. Mostly he’s just using tools that previous presidents have used. Some of those tools date back to the 19th century, some date back merely decades. The republic has withstood these practices throughout that time. It will withstand them now. Your liberties aren’t really any more infringed than they were in 1998, you just know how they are infringed now because you were told about it.

  • AJP

    Vergil, the point isn’t debateable at all. The Constitution says what it says – and it doesn’t say anything about civil liberties being limited to citizens. It provides protection to persons. For example, the Fifth Amendment says:

    “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 offense 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.”

    Note that it says “no perseon”, not “no citizen”.

  • MaryAnn

    Oh, well, I’m so reassured now. As long as the president doesn’t actually *declare* martial law, it’s fine for him to strut around talking like he can.

    Fine. If you’re all happy with Commander Cuckoo Bananas as our president, fine.

    I am not panicking. I am concerned. When will it be okay to panic? When martial law actually is declared?

    I’m sure Jose Padilla, an American citizen, thought he was protected by the Constitution, too.

  • Vergil

    Then we are all one big happy concerned family MaryAnn. I think AJP, you and I are all concerned. None of us are happy with Dubya. Padilla should have looked at a history book and realized that just maybe it wasn’t so cut and dried and it would take time to sort out the details. I will certainly make sure I’m up to date on the state of the courts the next time I decide to haul around the email addresses of my al Queda buddies.

  • Vergil

    Then we are all one big happy concerned family MaryAnn. I think AJP, you and I are all concerned. None of us are happy with Dubya. Padilla should have looked at a history book and realized that just maybe it wasn’t so cut and dried and it would take time to sort out the details. I will certainly make sure I’m up to date on the state of the courts the next time I decide to haul around the email addresses of my al Queda buddies.

  • MaryAnn

    I will certainly make sure I’m up to date on the state of the courts the next time I decide to haul around the email addresses of my al Queda buddies.

    Clearly, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a jury of one’s peers is already long gone.

    This is the thing that drives me insane, and demonstrates that Americans simply Do Not Understand the rights they’re entitled to, and how they’ve been trashed. When people say things like, “Oh, the terrorists in Guantanamo Bay don’t deserve the same rights as Americans,” they’re making an assumption that the prisoners in Cuba have been proven guilty. They have not.

    When people say things like, “I will certainly make sure I’m up to date on the state of the courts the next time I decide to haul around the email addresses of my al Queda buddies,” that shows they have no conception whatsoever of what’s going on. The Bush Administration has decided that it may, unilaterally, declare you guilty of whatever it wants. You may not have access to a lawyer. You may not have access to the evidence against you. You are not entitled to a verdict by a jury of your peers.

    This is not America. In what bizarre, twisted conception of the world is this America?

  • Vergil

    “José Padilla was found guilty of all charges against him on August 16, 2007, by a federal jury”

    I’m not saying that everything was done to my liking MaryAnn. But as I’ve said again and again this is new ground. And there are many crimes for which you are detained until the trial, though presumed innocent. I’m pretty sure you aren’t going to argue that he wasn’t a flight risk. The President has always been given wide latitude in times of war. And though it may not fit your definition of war (or mine), it is certainly not your run-of-the-mill gas station robbery either.

    And AJP, in addition to voting rights (and holding office), there are a wide array of immigration laws which fall into constitutional grey areas heavily contested in the courts. And again, during wartime, the protections of the Constitution have not been applied equally to citizens and non-citizens alike, particularly when such “persons” are not on American soil (which is why they are at Guantanamo). Whether you like it or not (I personally do not) the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was signed on October 16. It will be contested in the courts and when it is I can assure you there will be MUCH debate as to the status of non citizens constitutional rights.

  • AJP

    Well, so long as the administration doesn’t actually declare martial law, then that isn’t an actual problem. Once again, this is one of those things where people are getting upset merely because something that has been possible for as long as they have been alive has been brought to their attention. There have been executive orders in place for decades before Bush that purported to give the President the power to suspend the Constitution under various circumstances. They have never been used, and it is unlikely that they ever will be used, since they would probably be slapped down by the courts almost immediately if they were. Every President back to at least Eisenhower has asserted this power (and probably many of the ones before then).

    I don’t think there will be a lot of debate concerning noncitizen’s Constitutional rights when they are outside the U.S. – because the Constitution’s protections don’t extend beyond the borders of the U.S. The Guantanamo prisoners exist in a bizarre legal limbo that really only applies to them, since they have never entered into the U.S. (technically). However, if they were brought into the U.S. proper, then a while bunch of rights would attach, which is exactly why the administration hasn’t done so.

    Should this be the way Guantanamo is treated? Its not the way I would like things to work, but that’s the way the law actually works. And it really can’t be changed unless we annex Guantanamo (which would open a whole host of new problems), or decided that U.S. law applied outside of the U.S. (which would result in a host of other problems).

    Are we violating treaties? I think it likely that the dodges engaged in by this administration to get around various treaties may very well have put us in violation of them, but that’s a different issue, and not one that I think really impinges on out Constitutional civil liberties.

    But are we going to have debate concerning the status of noncitizen’s Constitutional rights when they are actually on U.S. soil? Probably not. This isn’t a grey area.

  • MaryAnn

    Padilla was held without charges and with trial for almost four years. Generally years of imprisonment comes after someone is found guilty, not before.

    Oh, and those four years of illegal imprisonment came complete with torture.

    Oh, and guess what? That guilty verdict does not include any charge that has anything to to do with Al Quaeda or any terrorist activity on American soil (and the evidence that he was involved in any terrorist activity overseas is circumstantial, given the wideest, most generous interpretation of it). It certainly had absolutely nothing to do with a dirty bomb plot, which was the excuse the government offered for detaining him unconstitutionally.

    But of course Padilla is brown and scary looking, and he had been overseas to somewhere other than Disneyland Paris, and he had been learning Arabic. I guess we won’t hear any real outrage over what is being done to American citizens until it’s a pretty blond white woman under illegal arrest and detention.

    The President has always been given wide latitude in times of war.

    And as I’ve said, this president has conveniently invented a “war” for himself that cannot be ended. That makes this situation very different than the Civil War and WWII.

  • Vergil

    Generally yes, but as you seem to not understand (or at least somehow don’t agree with)the fact that this is not a “general” situation.

    The torture allegations of this case and the administrations stance on such bothers me much more than the other debates. I’ll be the first one to stand by you when the torturers are put on trial. However, speaking of innocent until proven guilty, you seem pretty quick to declare guilt when it suits your case. Yes, there is evidence, but it is no more likely than that Padilla was assisting al Queda. You say “circumstanstial” as that means nothing. 99% of the evidence in most trials is circumstanstial. If it wasn’t then they would plea.

    Yes, this is not WWII or the Civil War, but what else are you going to compare it to? The President and his buddies may be using the term “War” liberally, but he certainly did not invent the situation. We are simultaneously tying his hands behind his back and saying “now, go protect us from the terrorists!” Yes, he is pushing the envelope, but that is his job. It is our job to elect Congressmen and elect Presidents competent enough to appoint Justices that will push back.

  • MaryAnn

    you seem pretty quick to declare guilt when it suits your case

    Ah, yes, it’s true, I have a secret prison full of people I’ve unilaterlly decided are guilty of something or other.

    “We” are not tying anyone’s hands. The Constitution is what it is.

  • Vergil

    “You’re glib!” – Tom Cruise.

    The Constitution itself ties the hands of the Government. I did not say this was a bad thing, but it is the case. Ask a policeman if his job would be easier without Miranda. Of course it ties hands.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Vergil, you were doing better before that last post. Go back to saying that thing about Congress and the Courts having responsibility here.

    The Constitution doesn’t do anything. It’s an inaminate object with no supernatural emanations or effects.

    Miranda was an excercise of the power of the judiciary to check the excesses of the executive.

    MaryAnn is naive enough to believe that preserving the Constitution is a simple matter of electing presidents who won’t abuse it, as though Bush is some sort of easily-avoided exception. Power corrupts…

  • Vergil

    frizzy, I know it is anthropomorphism, but what I mean is that the Constitution defines what the government must or must not do, not what the people can(‘t) do. And yes, it is up to people to decide to enforce it.

    MaryAnn, I made a joke about Tom Cruise, but I think flippant is what I mean. By declaring guilt I mean you have assumed Paddilla was tortured. I didn’t mean you have a secret dungeon in your basement.

    You don’t…do you?

  • MaryAnn

    MaryAnn is naive enough to believe that preserving the Constitution is a simple matter of electing presidents who won’t abuse it

    I most certainly am not. What on Earth gives you such an idea?

  • defending and preserving the Constitution is the responsibility of the electorate… who should vote for and elect public servants who defend and protect the Constitution.

    the Constitution is more than an inanimate object — it is an agreed upon system of living, a shared delusion, if you will (as most governments are*) that we will have a particular way of life. which is what makes the United States more than the sum of its physical parts… it is a shared philosophy. condoning evil in the name of protecting the physical part of the Nation damages the entire way of life we have agreed upon. this includes illegal imprisonment, torture, and the abolishment of specific rights and privileges we have agreed to live by.

    arguing that we “may” have lost *some* privileges is like arguing about whether someone is a “little” pregnant — they are pregnant — and going to be more so. same with the loss — whether by sneaky tactics of our elected officials or the plain cowardice of the voting public — of our agreed upon rights. it’s just going to get bigger.

    *i credit Lois McMaster Bujold with this definition of government.

  • Vergil

    This is just more of the silly “slippery slope” arguement. The fact is that once you even decide to HAVE a government, you have decided to give up some privileges. To correct one of the most misquoted phrases of all time: those who give up a little freedom for safety have taken the first step toward civilization. Ever since the first caveman said “hey, I’ll give up my freedom to kick your ass when I feel like it, if you do likewise” we have more or less improved our human condition. This “pregnancy” business is nonsense. All legislation is a give and take. The Constitution is a wonderful document, but as they say, the devil is in the details.

  • MaryAnn

    We’re slinging quotes now, are we? How about this: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” But that vigilance is about citizens keeping an eye on their government, not government keeping an eye on external enemies.

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