L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 186, August 12, 2002
DOING THE RIGHT THING?
Is Bush a Well-Meaning Dupe? Does it Really Make Any Difference?
Special to TLE
It is now the eleventh hour before Police State America. Less than one year after the World Trade Center attacks, the Federal government-- ordinarily plodding and slow, when it comes to mundane matters--is speeding us down the fast track to military government on greased rails. We have the Office of Homeland Security. Federalized airport screeners. Laws that give the police unbelievable authority to snoop and intrude, without search warrants. There is a movement toward a National ID card, which will probably be insidiously pushed through in the form of state Driver's Licenses. New tracking devices with microchips that are meant to be inserted under human skin. Military tribunals. Plans for forced vaccinations of entire cities. Secret police. There is even talk of legalizing torture. Concentration camps and gulags may be on next month's agenda. One shudders in anticipation of what will be proposed next.
Of course, many people are rationalizing and softening the blow of this new-wave fascism by saying that its creators, most especially President Bush, are 'well-meaning'. And that the dangers from these militaristic, aggressive 'security' measures are down the road. This is also a rationalization, because it implies that we still have time to change things. The dangers are already hanging over our heads.
Certainly, it is possible that George W. Bush could be a well-meaning ignoramus. This possibility has been evident since 9-11, as we have watched him stammer his way through abortive sentences in front of blue-collar firefighters and Police chiefs who can speak much better than he can. Watching Bush with a microphone, attempting to speak off- the-cuff in front of a crowd, is downright painful. He often lapses into sub-grammatic gibberish that is impossible to decipher, even on paper. And one gets the impression that the reason this is the case is because--as he falters to remember some pre-rehearsed speech line--- he's not even vaguely familiar with what he is talking about.
It's entirely conceivable that Bush--a living monument to nepotism in political form--does not realize what he is doing as the 'company man' for the New World Order. He may not understand that his recent proposal of 24 million civilian informants in the "TIPS" plan was a spectacular gesture toward totalitarianism. He may not realize that the "USA-Patriot Act" is a monstrous abrogation of the Bill of Rights, unprecedented in American history. He may be blithely unaware that Federalizing the police is a violation of the doctrine of Posse Comitatus. In fact, it's highly unlikely that Bush can even spell 'Posse Comitatus', let alone cite the historical concept behind the phrase.
Yes, it is possible that many Bush-league Republicans, even at the top, are well-meaning. We all remember Ronald Reagan. And, make no mistake--there is certainly a great deal at risk in the "War On Terror". Those of us who shake our fists on the political sidelines often forget to think through the dangers that a serious war between the US and Islam could represent.
Suppose, for example, that the worst were to happen---that Islamic suicide bombers might decide to send their souls to Allah by exploding a thermonuclear weapon in New York City. It would be a horrendous blow to the United States, even if a very small fraction of the citizens of that city were killed. New York City is the center of the US economy. If the city were destroyed, it would have a catastrophic ripple effect throughout our system. We would be plunged into a depression darker than the one of the 1930s. Utter chaos would result...and that would be from only one errant nuclear weapon.
It's entirely possible that those at the top, who are cranking out one fascistic police state plan after another, are desperately attempting to stop something like that from happening. It's also possible that their refusal to deal with the issue logically--by racially profiling Arabs and leaving ordinary folk alone--could be because they are incompetent, bureaucratic, effete, and cowardly. We are, after all, talking about Republican politicians here. The "Patriot Act", the Gestapo-like Office of Homeland Security, the proposed National ID card, the proposed TIPS plan--all could be sincere attempts to avert disaster, and their flaws could be attributed to constitutional illiteracy and a lack of common sense. It's even possible that all these things may be motivated by fear of public safety; it may not be the malfeasance or conspiratorial scheming to destroy our liberties that it appears to be on the surface.
But the truth is that all of this really doesn't matter. The government has absolutely no authority to immolate the Bill of Rights for any reason--good or bad; sincere or treasonous. A government that tramples the US Constitution roughshod is an illegal and illicit government. And if the constitutional abrogators are ignorant of what they are doing? Ignorance of the Law is no excuse. A judge will tell the common citizen that for the tiniest infraction. It applies equally to the Powerful and the Arrogant.
And as for the catastrophic risks? We have lived under them for fifty years, through the Cold War and the age of nuclear proliferation. Indeed, the risks, even today, that Russia or China might nuke one of our cities are just as viable as any possible terrorism the Muslims might inflict. The Federal government should take action, if it really wants to protect the American people, by developing a valid civil defense system. Instead, the government is using every possible excuse of danger to take away our constitutional rights. Is this due to incompetence, or evil? Does it really matter?
Twenty-eight years ago, when liberals were undermining the Presidency of Richard Nixon, we heard a great deal of pontification about the idea that the "President should not be above the Law". It was a good concept. Unfortunately, this was turned on its head by the Senate's refusal to remove Bill Clinton from office. A dangerous precedent was set. We will now have a new breed of Presidents who throw their weight around like Roman Emperors. Bush is one of them. The fact that he is dense as a cinder block does not change matters any. Nor does it matter whether he is "well-meaning"--or not. He is doing great harm.
We are rapidly reaching the point where we must all choose whether we are going to ignore the laws of the land--because, certainly, our elective rulers are doing so, and they are drunk with power. The Constitution is the legal foundation of this country--it is the Law. Any President who willfully attempts to destroy the legal foundations of the Constitution is in violation of the Law. A Congress that rubber-stamps such abuses is also in violation of the Law. And black- garbed Federal police who enforce such abrogations, who are "just following orders", are in violation of the Law as well.
When the government ignores its own Law, sets itself above the Law, and denies its own citizens the protections of the Law...we have very little left to lose.
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