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"That's the big question ... the definition of who can be detained."
July 29, 2006 11:55 AM   Subscribe

U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.
posted by EarBucket (72 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease.

In other words, forever.
posted by interrobang at 12:01 PM on July 29, 2006


You mean like Jose Padilla?

U.S. Citizens can already be detained indefinetly and barred from courts. Of course, it turns out that may be illegal so this new legislation would legalize that.
posted by delmoi at 12:04 PM on July 29, 2006


Wasn't this originally part of Patriot Act 2? (Also, America is over.)
posted by keswick at 12:05 PM on July 29, 2006


U.S. Citizens can already be detained indefinetly and barred from courts. Of course, it turns out that may be illegal so this new legislation would legalize that.

Precisely. This is an attempt to do an end-run around the Supreme Court while they have a majority in Congress.
posted by EarBucket at 12:07 PM on July 29, 2006


Don't worry. Just like all those other bits of legislation (and executive decisions) that remove freedoms, this one will only be targetted at Those People...

If you aren't brown you have nothing to worry about.
posted by mulligan at 12:11 PM on July 29, 2006


The draft proposal contends that an existing law — passed by the Senate last year after exhaustive negotiations between the White House and Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz. — that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment should "fully satisfy" the nation's obligations under the Geneva Conventions

Didn't the Administration add a signing statement saying that they had no obligation to enforce this?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:14 PM on July 29, 2006


This summary only uses the term "suspected", not "found guilty of" with regards to terrorist ties. Having citizenship and all rights revoked with no legal recourse as a result of suspicion alone seems like a very bad path to go down.
posted by bhouston at 12:21 PM on July 29, 2006


Just like all those other bits of legislation (and executive decisions) that remove freedoms, this one will only be targetted at Those People...

At least, until the people in charge of enforcement have enough political support that they can actually put the Limbaugh doctrine into effect, and just start locking up their political opposition.

After all, that's the fifth column that's keeping us from winning the war, right?
posted by namespan at 12:23 PM on July 29, 2006


Bah. Limbaugh doctrine.
posted by namespan at 12:28 PM on July 29, 2006


I recently read the article "The Hidden Power" in the New Yorker. It profiles David S. Addington, Vice-President Cheney’s chief of staff and his longtime principal legal adviser and his efforts to establish the 'New Paradigm':
"Known as the New Paradigm, this strategy rests on a reading of the Constitution that few legal scholars share—namely, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries, if national security demands it. Under this framework, statutes prohibiting torture, secret detention, and warrantless surveillance have been set aside. A former high-ranking Administration lawyer who worked extensively on national-security issues said that the Administration’s legal positions were, to a remarkable degree, 'all Addington.' Another lawyer, Richard L. Shiffrin, who until 2003 was the Pentagon’s deputy general counsel for intelligence, said that Addington was 'an unopposable force.'

The overarching intent of the New Paradigm, which was put in place after the attacks of September 11th, was to allow the Pentagon to bring terrorists to justice as swiftly as possible. Criminal courts and military courts, with their exacting standards of evidence and emphasis on protecting defendants’ rights, were deemed too cumbersome. Instead, the President authorized a system of detention and interrogation that operated outside the international standards for the treatment of prisoners of war established by the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Terror suspects would be tried in a system of military commissions, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, devised by the executive branch. The Administration designated these suspects not as criminals or as prisoners of war but as 'illegal enemy combatants,' whose treatment would be ultimately decided by the President. By emphasizing interrogation over due process, the government intended to preëmpt future attacks before they materialized. In November, 2001, Cheney said of the military commissions, 'We think it guarantees that we’ll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve.'

Yet, almost five years later, this improvised military model, which Addington was instrumental in creating, has achieved very limited results. Not a single terror suspect has been tried before a military commission. Only ten of the more than seven hundred men who have been imprisoned at Guantánamo have been formally charged with any wrongdoing. Earlier this month, three detainees committed suicide in the camp. Germany and Denmark, along with the European Union and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, have called for the prison to be closed, accusing the United States of violating internationally accepted standards for humane treatment and due process. The New Paradigm has also come under serious challenge from the judicial branch. Two years ago, in Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled against the Administration’s contention that the Guantánamo prisoners were beyond the reach of the U.S. court system and could not challenge their detention. And this week the Court is expected to deliver a decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case that questions the legality of the military commissions.
Colin Powell reportedly said of Addington: "He doesn't care about the Constitution."
posted by ericb at 12:34 PM on July 29, 2006


"In a time of ongoing armed conflict, it is neither practicable nor appropriate for enemy combatants like al Qaeda terrorists to be tried like American citizens in federal courts or courts-martial," the proposal states.

wtfusa. There are lots of laws that are neither practicable nor appropriate for me to follow. Doesn't mean I can ignore them.

"Because I really needed to" is not a legal defense.
posted by smeger at 12:38 PM on July 29, 2006


that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries, if national security demands it.

So obviously one Prez should just bomb a couple thousand rednecks, who will just blame some invisible enemy anyway, and then become practically a kind of KING even if he will be called Prez to further fool the remaining rednecks.

Now that would be good if I was the king, but then I would declare my family royal and get rid of the election thing.
posted by elpapacito at 12:40 PM on July 29, 2006


Tut tut children. The right wing always knows what is best for you. Conform or spend your life in jail without bail.
posted by Cranberry at 12:46 PM on July 29, 2006


It's only a draft. Wake me up when it actually gets to Congress.
posted by mischief at 12:47 PM on July 29, 2006


It's only a draft. Wake me up when it actually gets to Congress.

So you admit to being asleep?
posted by cell divide at 12:49 PM on July 29, 2006 [4 favorites]


"Because I really needed to" is not a legal defense.

Well, um, actually, yeah, it is.
posted by baylink at 12:50 PM on July 29, 2006


More, and even more...
posted by baylink at 12:53 PM on July 29, 2006


"Because I really needed to" is not a legal defense.

Apparently, it is, even if it only reduces the level of punishment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 PM on July 29, 2006


This is one of a series of laws designed to make legal something the Bush administration has already extensively done, such as the proposed law to legalize warrantless wiretaps, and thereby remove a ground for impeachment of the president and criminal prosecution for lower officials who have carried out these crimes.
posted by jamjam at 12:57 PM on July 29, 2006


Don't forget to see V for Vendetta when it comes to DVD on Tuesday.
posted by VulcanMike at 12:58 PM on July 29, 2006


I'll be quiet now. :)
posted by smeger at 1:26 PM on July 29, 2006


So, are you guys just going to bitch about it, or what? Do Americans write letters? I mean, I guess it doesn't really help, but it's something. I don't know.
posted by blacklite at 1:27 PM on July 29, 2006


So, are you guys just going to bitch about it, or what? Do Americans write letters? I mean, I guess it doesn't really help, but it's something. I don't know.

What should the letters say? "Please don't give President Bush the power to throw anyone he wants into secret prisons for as long as he wants for any reason he wants?"

If you really have to beg your government not to do something like this, it's too late. The only thing that's going to stop it is impeachment or a good old-fashioned American insurrection. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we have the balls to get either one accomplished. Here's a guide to living in the new police state.
posted by EarBucket at 1:35 PM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Anyone who ever worked with Wes Craven should be very afraid right now.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:38 PM on July 29, 2006


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Supreme Court, I present to you: Chewbacca.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:49 PM on July 29, 2006


"So you admit to being asleep?"

Nah, just bored by "the sky is falling" paranoia from both sides of the aisle.

I still smoke as much weed as I want, I can fuck just about anyone I want, I can still go out and get a drink any time of the day, and the last time I was hassled by a cop was in 1985 when I was doing 50 in a 35 zone.

Eventually, the left will regain control of the federal government and undo all the righty shit. In the meantime, the left will pull a bunch of its own shit, and then the right will come along and start the cycle all over again.
posted by mischief at 1:55 PM on July 29, 2006


Having citizenship and all rights revoked with no legal recourse as a result of suspicion alone seems like a very bad path to go down.

Congratulations! You have won the "Understatement of the Week" award!
posted by Decani at 2:13 PM on July 29, 2006


The next administration is going to need at least four years just to repair the damage this administration is doing, just to get to zero. Meanwhile, the Republicans will be screaming that the Democrats are for burning the American flag, for releasing terrorists, for raising taxes, etc. So after four years of the Democrat doing nothing but repairing Republican damage, another Republican will get in and continue the slash and burn.
posted by pracowity at 2:19 PM on July 29, 2006


I still smoke as much weed as I want, I can fuck just about anyone I want, I can still go out and get a drink any time of the day, and the last time I was hassled by a cop was in 1985 when I was doing 50 in a 35 zone.

Ah, well then. As long as you're okay.
posted by Zinger at 2:19 PM on July 29, 2006


... and you're not?
posted by mischief at 2:20 PM on July 29, 2006


Hell, pracowity, we're still trying to fix crap that Lincoln mishandled.
posted by mischief at 2:22 PM on July 29, 2006


Yeah, like all those negroes runnin around everywhere, am i rite?
posted by interrobang at 2:33 PM on July 29, 2006


No, interrobang, like getting the US into the Civil War in the first place.
posted by mischief at 2:36 PM on July 29, 2006


... and you're not?

Oh, I'm fine. But I live in Canada, and I don't have brown skin or a Middle Eastern accent.

On the other hand, it doesn't even take that much to earn a terrorist designation in the US these days.
posted by Zinger at 2:36 PM on July 29, 2006


You're right, Z; they would be better off in their home countries.
posted by mischief at 2:39 PM on July 29, 2006


The constitution didn't protect those of Japanese descent sixty years ago, and it won't protect you now. It's just a meaningless piece of paper.

The government is going to do whatever the hell it wants to do, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's always been that way.

Aww, did you really think it meant something? That's sweet. Now dry your tears, and enter the real world.
posted by Jatayu das at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2006


pracowity writes "The next administration is going to need at least four years just to repair the damage this administration is doing, just to get to zero."

This is a wildly optimistic idea.
posted by mullingitover at 2:47 PM on July 29, 2006


Somewhere, Sacco & Vanzetti are nodding sagely.

You can kiss your country goodbye. If and when this passes, the next step is simply to rearrange what "terrorism" means, and voila!

Instant fascism - just add apathy.
posted by FormlessOne at 2:49 PM on July 29, 2006


I'm not okay. I was living in a very nice port city, one of the country's oldest and most celebrated, the birthplace of jazz, until a hurricane wiped it off the map. A year later, efforts to repair the city have stalled, massive amounts of reconstruction money has been misspent or simply stolen, a huge segment of the city's population has no place to return to, and I, personally, am deeply in debt, because the money provided by FEMA is nowhere near what it actually costs to flee a city.

But, hey, moke as much weed as I want, provided I don't get caught and sentenced under draconian antidrug laws, I can fuck just about anyone I want, but, if I am a homosexual, I might still get arrested for it, and certainly can't marry the person I'm fucking, I can still go out and get a drink any time of the day, unless it's night, because the bars aren't open and the last time I was hassled by a cop was in 1985 when I was doing 50 in a 35 zone, because, fortunately, I'm not black and don't get pulled over just because the cops can't figure out why I'm driving such a nice car.

Yep. Life is pretty sweet for me under the Bush administration. Wake me when somebody really bad gets into office.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2006 [4 favorites]


we all have occasional millage votes on such things as new jails, expansion of police forces, etc etc ... i suggest we vote "no" ... i have, and will continue to do so
posted by pyramid termite at 2:53 PM on July 29, 2006


You guys sure live in the moment. The MSM has you right where they want you. One press release and you shit all over yourselves.

Consume that news, boys; they'll manufacture more.
posted by mischief at 2:54 PM on July 29, 2006


No, interrobang, like getting the US into the Civil War in the first place.

Really?

posted by EarBucket at 2:56 PM on July 29, 2006


EarBucket: The war happened on Lincoln's watch. Or, are we going to finally admit Clinton is at fault for 9/11?
posted by mischief at 3:02 PM on July 29, 2006


Then again, Shrub is living proof that the american public CAN elect a bigger idiot than Clinton.
posted by mischief at 3:03 PM on July 29, 2006


Quakers, environmentalists, gay military and ex-military, peace groups, everyone on airplane watch lists, anyone whose information/emails/phonecalls have been listened to or read by this administration, etc--we're all suspects according to them, so we're all at risk from this--every single person in this country.
posted by amberglow at 3:04 PM on July 29, 2006


Or, are we going to finally admit Clinton is at fault for 9/11?

What's this "we," Kemosabe?
posted by EarBucket at 3:11 PM on July 29, 2006


mischief writes "Then again, Shrub is living proof that the american public CAN elect a bigger idiot than Clinton."

Well, considering Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, yeah, it's not hard to do worse...but going from a Rhodes Scholar to a cheerleader really says something.
posted by mullingitover at 3:13 PM on July 29, 2006


"In a time of ongoing armed conflict, it is neither practicable nor appropriate for enemy combatants like al Qaeda terrorists to be tried like American citizens in federal courts or courts-martial," the proposal states.

This baffles me. You can't just "decide" they're terrorists, and throw away the key. The whole point of a trial is to determine guilt.

If there's even a 1 percent chance that one Guantanamo combatant is innocent, then the whole system is insupportable.

And if we're so certain they're guilty, then why not give them a day in court? That would end the controversy.
posted by futility closet at 3:15 PM on July 29, 2006


Or, are we going to finally admit Clinton is at fault for 9/11?

No, I'll keep blaming Bush, who was busy reading a children's book upside down while the country was under attack. Thanks for trying anyway, mischief.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:20 PM on July 29, 2006


going from a Rhodes Scholar to a cheerleader really says something

Going from a Rhodes Scholar to a country music songwriter, singer and actor says something.
posted by ericb at 3:23 PM on July 29, 2006


We would probably be better off if we'd had Kristofferson as President.
posted by mullingitover at 3:37 PM on July 29, 2006


I half agree with mischief , in that, "Eventually, the left will regain control of the federal government and undo all the righty shit. In the meantime, the left will pull a bunch of its own shit, and then the right will come along and start the cycle all over again." However, he is half right for the wrong reasons.

And the elite have figured out, that we have figured that out. And in doing so, mean to change the rules of the intellectual aristotle binary straight jacket. They see that the straight jacket has been figured out. And mean to revamp the whole system. The ol' if we can't rule it, we'll destroy it game.

Ahhh, one would be wise to consider, The ratchet effect.
The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties -- Republicans and Democrats -- play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation.

The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.

The Democrats' role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don't resist the rightward movement -- they let it happen -- but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.
Further, as Robert Jensen recently put it, "While all the empires that have committed great crimes -- the British, French, Belgians, Japanese, Russians and then the Soviets -- have justified their exploitation of others by the alleged benefits it brought to the people being exploited, there is no power so convinced of its own benevolence as the United States.

The culture is delusional in its commitment to this mythology, which is why today one can find on the other side of the world peasant farmers with no formal education who understand better the nature of U.S. power than many faculty members at elite U.S. universities."

Politicians, all of them, in interest of personal power, do nothing to combat this mythology, and so cause infite universes of unbearable suffering around the world.

But the problems of language, and public perception go deeper than this. Why does the media always refer to politicians as public servants? When I hold a cocktail party, my servants don't need 1/4 Million dollars just to compete for the opportunity to "serve" me. Why don't we strip the politicians of this warm hagiography and call them by what they actually are: "failed businessman/oportunist."

"Failed businessman/opportunist Bush met with fellow failed businessman/opportunist Cheney today, in an effort to divide up the spoils of so-called "re-building contracts" in Iraq. They decided that Cheney's former firm would get 50% of the action, while Bush's dady's firm would get 35%, and the rest would be divied between various Republican donors, with 1% going to Conneticut firms so that Senator Lieberman would feel compeled to undercut his fellow Democrats."

If we exercized "truthifying" like this, we might not have so many people looking at "Politician" as "Savior." That would be a good first step towards cleaning up our political culture, and bringing our expectations of politicians more in line with reality.

After all, they are not really "public sevants," they are instant members of an elite class, commanding large budgets and psychophantic self-important staffs, who we invest with the partial power of deciding who should live and who should die, who should be fed and who should starve, who shall be healed and who shall ail, who shall get ahead and who shall fall behind, in this fractious, yet predominately cowed, all-consuming, unsustainable, prideful and arrogant, society of ours, which we, in our own arrogance of power and ignorance of power, believe to be both a blessing and a role model to the rest of the world. All may all merciful God have pity on those who refuse to be so blessed.
posted by Unregistered User at 3:40 PM on July 29, 2006 [12 favorites]


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.

If you read the list of grievances compiled by Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, a large number of them center on the abuse of excutive power over the judiciary and the legislative.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:46 PM on July 29, 2006


He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

. . .

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

posted by EarBucket at 3:54 PM on July 29, 2006


One press release and you shit all over yourselves.


Uh, that's kinda what news is supposed to do. Tell you bad stuff that happens. Or do you support the Freedom From Information Act?
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:55 PM on July 29, 2006


"that's kinda what news is supposed to do"

Fine, then don't let me hear any bitching about Faux News versus CoNN. $$$
posted by mischief at 4:22 PM on July 29, 2006


Unregistered User: great post.
posted by Decani at 4:24 PM on July 29, 2006


Unregistered User, I really liked that 'ratchet effect' analogy. I'll probably steal it.

I still say we need a viable third party. It will never happen, but how many people still feel represented by either of the the ones currently vying for power?

Will all the shit going on, the Ds go on the offensive against video games? The current administration is the worst I've ever seen, and rather than take them to task, the opposition party manages to alienate the one base they have more or less locked; young people.

The kind of stupidity that sees this as a wise move is exactly why I weep for the damage that a binary system has done to my country.

Fuckers. All of them.
posted by quin at 4:26 PM on July 29, 2006


Don't forget to see V for Vendetta when it comes to DVD on Tuesday.

The movie that teaches kids the importance of alliteration in political discourse!
posted by sparkletone at 7:52 PM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Eventually, the left will regain control of the federal government

Mischief, if you actually believe that the "left" ever controlled the government, maybe you should consider not smoking quite as much weed as you want. It's blurring your perception of reality.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:28 PM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Connect the Dots
posted by homunculus at 11:16 PM on July 29, 2006


KirkJobSluder writes "If you read the list of grievances compiled by Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, a large number of them center on the abuse of excutive power over the judiciary and the legislative."

If you read. I don't think anyone is accusing this Administration of reading -- and certianly not the Declaration or the Constitution.
posted by orthogonality at 11:21 PM on July 29, 2006


Harrison Ford / John Stewart -08'
posted by Balisong at 1:52 AM on July 30, 2006


Interesting new laws BushCo is seeking... Put this and that together with a few (hundred) signing statements and it certainly looks like they want a carte blanc, nicht wahr?
posted by taosbat at 8:31 AM on July 30, 2006


There is only one force which can fight against the business elite and kick-start a 3rd Party

Letterman/Winfrey '08
posted by fullerine at 9:31 AM on July 30, 2006


Anybody who thinks that the members of Steely Dan are really miffed about this should get their funny bone checked.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:32 AM on July 30, 2006


Oops must learn to preview, although the Letterman/Winfrey comment was highly misleading for this topic.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:34 AM on July 30, 2006


Echoes of the Nixon era: Specter's FISA bill would put President Bush above the rule of law, just as an earlier president would've wanted
posted by homunculus at 8:42 PM on July 30, 2006


The ratchet effect is interesting, to be sure, but seems fairly innacurate, or atleast woefully incomplete.

I don't know why 1968 is picked as the start date for this, save for Nixon, who was indeed more liberal than Clinton himself, arguably, but even if this effect is true, than the social ratcheting has moved in the opposite direction.

In the last forty years, minorities have won more and more rights, women have gained more and more control over their own bodies, and the first amendement has ever-expanded. None of these things are where they ideally should be, of course, and the current administration is obviously doing everything they can to move them all backwards, but I feel this proves my point.

Liberals in power (and I do include Nixon in this, as he created the EPA and got us out of Vietnam, as well as setting the stage for a positive foreign policy directive that lasted until Bush Jr. strip-mined it) have been demonized as weak, wishy-washy, and without clear purpose or message. But they still have gotten a lot done, and with their actions have been able to define the issues better than the right has, albeit more subtly.

The Right has been up in arms about anything and everything since Bush Jr. took office, and for a party that had (a few years ago, at least) overwhelming public favor, and which still holds a majority in both houses, the white house, and realistically the Supreme Court as well, they have accomplished spectacularly little aside from expanding Bush's power to further expand his own power.

The reason the right can't ban abortion or amend the constitution to prohibit gay marraige or flag burning or put the kibosh once-and-foreall on stem-cell research isn't that they didn't have ther power, but because they need the issues for reelection. Because of this, they have to create hate-and-fear issues around what the Dems have already gotten through.

And then, on the occasion that they get into a frenzy over one thing or another to try to actually act (e.g. Terri Schiavo or the Clinton impeachment) not only do they fail more often than they succeed, but they inadvertantly prove just how behind the times they are. But most of the time they just scream from the rooftops and try to convince their base that it's the same thing as action.

The issues in November, and likely '08 as well, will be abortion (the old standby), gay rights, flag-burning and the first amendment, stem-cell research, and the war. Of those, four of the five are issues that wouldn't even be debated if the U.S. were, in fact, ratcheting more to the right. And the fifth, the war, has been so publicly mismanaged that the issue isn't even defined as pro-or-anti anymore, but rather as, "How do we most effectively get ourselves out of this republican-caused quagmire without causing WWIII?"

In favor of the ratchet effect, however, I'll concede that Sen. Clinton is certainly pandering to the right on both knees. I hope to god that she doesn't win the primary, as she's fallen into the same trap that the pols on the right have, of being so blinded by the path to greater power that she's forgotten what she would use it for.

If she wins the primary, she'll parrot "stay the course" as often as she can in order to win over a bas that hates her regardless, and then a smart GOP candidate will offer up a way to get us out of the middle east and win in a landslide. Either way, it'll be on account of a broad social shift more leftwards.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:45 PM on July 30, 2006


Let me point out something please:
The ratchet effect is interesting, to be sure, but seems fairly innacurate

And then:

Liberals in power (and I do include Nixon in this

See the problem? See how you have yourself validated the ratchet effect?

Will Saint Raygun be the next liberal?
posted by nofundy at 11:06 AM on July 31, 2006


“Eventually, the left will regain control of the federal government and undo all the righty shit...” - posted by mischief

I’m going to have to somewhat agree with both Unregistered User and Navelgazer in somewhat disagreeing with ya mischief. Whatever the cause, whatever the problems that are undone, those are undone by effort. It is dangerous to assume that such things will be undone (or done) through some sort of natural order.
One of the areas in which conservative and liberal thought differ is the focus on means and goals. One can’t assume the means by which change is done or undone will be satisfactory - whatever the goal (as your statement does). Indeed, whether the racheting effect is real or not is ultimately irrelevent. The fact is that effort must be made (to whatever direction) and that effort must be of a kind that is not only effective, but worthwhile and desirable.

People bust their ass to do the right thing and get the right thing done. It would be nice if folks would do something other than assume things take care of themselves.
(I’m not making any assumptions about your lifestyle mischief, just responding to the general ideas in your post)
It in fact takes a great deal of time and effort to counter the tyrrany of evil men whether they’re Republicans, Democrats, whatever. It also takes a degree of savvy.
For example, smoking weed, fucking and not being hassled by the police are swell, but they are not the best things to have.
I myself (being a comfortable, white looking, reasonably well connected suburbanite) could avail myself of a great deal of pleasures from our society legal or not with very little trouble and to hell with everyone else.

But eating an apple is not the same as maintaining an orchard. It’s not the same as creating an environment in which apple trees flourish.
Don’t mistake me for a liberal here because I come to a similar conclusion as many liberal thinkers. This is not an ideological position. This is a practical one. Derived from life experiance (I was reading about ‘Tom Bombadil’ in LOTR when it hit me though). No matter how strong or smart I am in getting what I want and need, I cannot maintain such a position forever. I cannot beat the odds indefinitely. I can’t pry privilege out of the system forever, nor can my descendants. So even if I’m stronger than any other man, I am (to paraphrase Hobbes) ultimately the same as any other man when it comes to fighting a tiger. So if those around me are not give equal opportunities, if they are not my equals, that diminishes my achievements. If they do not have the same rights I have, that diminishes my rights. If we are not equal under the law, then no true law exists and it is arbitrary chaos.
So - Jose Padilla - there but for the grace of whatever - go I. The same with this law.
And these things are remedied not by some natural mechnical action of our political system but by sacrifice and by effort and by will. It seems simple but we often forget the amount of work that goes into all this. And I think one facet of what Unregistered User points out is that those failed businessmen succeed in politics only because they don’t want to do any real work and make it only by rigging the system to advantage themselves and spreading the illusion of their altruism.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:34 PM on July 31, 2006


(as an aside: Reagan and Thatcher’s positions on the market were called ‘neoliberal’)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:34 PM on July 31, 2006


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