Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's time to impeach

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...

I am no fan of the current president. He is a dimwit of the worst sort, refusing to acknowledge that there is reasoned disagreement over most of his policies. He has reduced the entire world to the dramatic complexity of an old movie Western- there are good guys, and they wear white; and the good guys do whatever it takes to stop the bad guys.

This dichotomy is simple enough to understand. Do whatever it takes- the ends justify the means. This is why the President could order- without apparent remorse or apprehension- the NSA to spy on American citizens, and intercept their presumably private communications. All without judicial or legislative oversight.

Of course, the ends do not justify the means. Some things are simply wrong, no matter how "necessary" they may appear. That is the essence of American constitutionalism- the Constitution doesn't grant rights to the people as much as it demarcates the outer limits where the government cannot go.

What separated us from our enemies throughout history- from the Revolution, through the Nazis and the Soviets, to al-Qaeda- is that we are free. Free to choose for ourselves a life, free to pursue wealth and opportunity, free from intrusion by the government itself. The enemies of freedom- past and present- all believe that people cannot be trusted.

That is not the American way. Our system of government, with its separation of powers, and checks and balances, guaranteed that no one figure would ever be able to turn the might of the government against the people themselves.

Until today.

The President unleashed a secret police on American citizens with the stroke of a pen. In so doing, he committed a crime. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, by its very terms, only permits this sort of thing against foreign powers and persons- not Americans. Even when used against foreigners the administration must get a warrant, and history shows that the warrants have been liberally granted. The President's lame justification barely holds water. Domestic spying violates everything that Americans hold dear- that we a free people, able to choose our own destinies, and that ours is a nation of laws- not men.

The President's disregard for the rule of law and his utter hubris in office demonstrate that he is not fit to serve. It's time to remove him from office. I know that Cheney will be no better, but that is not the point. Bush cannot be trusted, and if given half the chance would install himself into the White House permanently, like a tinhorn dictator Generalissimo-for-life. He is not a royal sovereign, but simply a citizen, elected to serve at our pleasure- and we are displeased.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The infrequent blogger returns... for now.

As you will notice, I have only been writing sporadically for a number of months. I regret to say that have been experiencing a number of health problems of late, as well as a death in the family- all of which knocked the wind out of me. I miss writing about politics and society regularly, and I will try to keep this up, but I make no promises.

Manufacturing Dissent Leo Durocher's sagest advice to his Brooklyn nine was "Hit 'em where they ain't." Misdirection is a basic tactic in many adverserial settings- warfare, the courtroom, and politics, to name a few. So with pressure mounting against the administration (and its minions in Congress) over such trifles as the war and domestic spying, the Republicans have fired back with the War Against Christmas.

This is a manufactured controversy, nothing more than a blatant attempt to distract public attention from the real issues facing this nation, and from the Administration's dunderheaded efforts to confront them. It's appalling and offensive, really, to create a diversion like this. It also demonstrates how completely out of touch the GOP is with the new realities of life in America.

I grew up in a East Windsor, New Jersey- a town of about 25,000 people, about 40% of whom are not Christian- we had many, many Jews, as well as numerous Asian faiths represented. We didn't say "Merry Christmas" to one another because there was a better than average chance that the person you were saying it to didn't celebrate Christmas.

America is becoming more and more like my hometown. Religious diversity is an unqualified good. Currently being mired in what is basically a religious war, understanding and respect for others is the first step to peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.

Intelligent Design Intelligently Repudiated If you haven't heard by now, a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ruled (NOTE: link is a 139 page PDF) that teaching so-called "Intelligent Design" theory violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. To which I say, Amen.

What really irks me about the resurgence of creationism (of which I.D. is, no doubt, just a gussied up version of), is the way that a small minority of Christians have coopted the term "christian" itself. These Christians, in the proper noun sense, limit the definition only to people who witness to biblical inerrancy and have a "personal relationship" (whatever that means) with Jesus- thus excluding most christians, in the common noun, small-c sense, like Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, etc.

Christendom as a whole is hardly in universal agreement over anything. Within several major denominations- even within individual churches- there is constant discourse over gay rights, abortion, the death penalty, and creationism. Among big-C Christians, there is no discourse- nor can there be discourse- because the answers are already given to you, and who are you, mere mortal, to question the giver of those answers?

Fundamentalism is a childlike mythos. Its pretension of certitude is a comfort to people who are unwilling or unable to admit that this is a world of uncertainty. To these people, the answers are always simple, and it boggles their minds that anyone could even question them. Abortion? Murder. Gays? Abominations. Evolution? A lie. Hurricanes? God's vengeance against a sinful city.
But to the rest of us, we see a world in which nothing is certain. The answers are never easy, and the questions are enormous. Progress means that we try to answer those questions, even if the answer is as troublesome as the question itself.

And that is what terrifies big-C Christians (or the fundamentalists of any stripe, really)- they want their sentences to end with periods, not question marks.