time of year, I usually write a solstice piece.
The main element in it is hope, and I link the
solstice to hope. The great cosmic kitty coughs
up the hairball sun, and life begins anew. The
solstice essay is usually pretty light in tone,
written one this year, and it will go out over
the weekend. But I want to talk about cause for
real, substantive hope on the political front,
the strongest sign yet that America may be stopping
its mad slide into fascism and totalitarianism.
hope comes from the thin black line that protects
the Constitution against avaricious politicians
and scheming demagogues. The judiciary is making
a stand, and recently dealt several major blows
to the schemes of this illegal and dangerous administration.
quick succession, two district courts dismantled
large elements of the police state that the Republicans
seek to impose upon us.
the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Federal government
had no right to overrule states that had declared
marijuana to be legal and legally available for
medical purposes. In a role reversal that really
shows how corrupt and authoritarian the far right
has become, this generally liberal court stated
that medical marijuana was under the purview of
the states, not governed by the interstate commerce
clause, and in this instance, states' rights trumped
the following day, the Second Circuit ruled that
the President cannot declare American citizens
to be "enemy combatants" and hold them indefinitely
without charges or trial. This ruling stemmed
directly from the case of Jose Padilla, the Chicago-born-and-bred
convert to Islam who was accused of plotting to
build a "dirty bomb." It's long been my belief
that Padilla, if he had any plans to build a dirty
bomb to begin with, never got past the stick figures
drawn on a cocktail napkin phrase, and that our
slimy pseudo-Christian dirtbag of an Attorney
General, John Ashcroft, merely needed "an enemy
threat on American soil" plotting dastardly deeds
in order to pump up public fear and make us all
more malleable to his authoritarian plans. Ashcroft
has thirty days to either convince Congress that
he should be allowed to lock up Americans on a
whim, or show the court solid reason why Padilla
an incident, unrelated to the court ruling but
which dovetailed nicely with the ruling, videotapes
that lying federal authorities had tried to claim
had been accidently destroyed were released, showing
systematic and widespread abuse of foreign nationals
who had been taken prisoner and held without charges
in the wake of 9/11. This came right on the heels
of a story of a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who
was detained while traveling from Canada to Europe.
He was at La Guardia, transferring from one flight
to another, when authorities nabbed him. Instead
of sending him to Canada, they sent him to Syria.
Why? Because Syria has brutal interrogations and
torture, and the scumbags in the White House think
that's a good way to get information in the war
on terror. Canada, of course, doesn't torture
prisoners, or hold them without charges. The Syrians
wound up releasing the guy after it became clear
that he knew nothing, and upon his return to Canada,
he went to the Canadian papers with his story.
the Ninth Circuit weighed in again, this time
declaring that the government had no right to
take prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq and lock
them up indefinitely in the Gitmo Gulag without
a fair trial. They ordered a federal judge in
LA who had dismissed a plea for such legal protection
to take the case back up.
none of these cases do the . . . well, "accused"
is the word I would normally use here, but none
of them have been accused of anything, so I guess
for the time being we'll have to call them "concentration
camp inmates..." In none of these cases are they
being allowed to just walk. They will get fair
and open trials, just as the constitution mandates
for all who are in a place where the American
there is a case where an open trial could actually
jeopardize national security, as opposed to merely
making Ashcroft look like a fool, then prosecutors
would have the opportunity to convince the judge
of that before the trial began.
course, our sleazy joke of a president isn't going
to like this one little bit. He enjoys mocking
condemned prisoners who are at his non-existent
mercy, and revels in calling for the execution
of prisoners obtained illegally before there has
been a trial.
the United States has been in far greater danger
in the past than it is today. And while there
were failures of courage in times of crisis, such
as Lincoln abandoning due process and FDR signing
executive order 1776, the one that threw thousands
of American of Japanese descent in concentration
camps, never has there been such a widespread
abandonment of principles on such a thin pretext
as we've seen under the slime masquerading as
Christian Americans in the White House.
now, thanks to some judges who showed great courage
in upholding what should have been commonplace
legal positions, the ball is in the court of this
they hope the same corruption in the Supreme Court
that made their administration possible in the
first place will now allow them to continue their
overthrow of the constitution? Or will they grimly
make plans to defy the judiciary, and extort their
minions in Congress to pass a 21st century version
of the Nuremberg Laws, placing the judiciary under
the control of the party? Will their wealthy supporters,
and the crazed billionaires who run the right
wing shadow media empires, put their efforts into
convincing the people that an independent judiciary
and due process are harmful to their freedom and
if they do, have Americans in general fallen to
the level where they could succeed?
in the decline of America over the past few years,
which reminds us so hauntingly of Germany in the
1930s, this stand by the judiciary is not one
of those historic parallels. If any German judges
rebelled against "the encroachment of the night"
it didn't make the headlines, and history did
not record them.
I will say in my Solstice essay later this weekend,
"Don't lose hope. Never lose hope."
to the thin black line, it's more than just a
benediction. -- "I came to this office to solve
problems and not pass them on to future presidents
and future generations."
Posted: December 20, 2003