RANGER AGAINST WAR: One-Love, Constitution <

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One-Love, Constitution

Let's get together to fight this Holy Armagiddyon
(One Love!)

So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom

(One Song!)

--One Love
, Bob Marley

I wasn't thinking Marley when I wrote the title--just the score in tennis. Thank you Judge Taylor. But you know, Marley's in on this, too. What Holy Armageddon is he talking about? If you buy into it, then this really is a holy war, rather than something we've engineered.

A biblically-sanctioned war, an inevitibility. Apocalyptic horseman and all of it, like the Cavalry riding in at the end of a Western. And I am told by my Baptist friends that folks who ascend after the rapture will be given "glorified bodies," and surely, with the current glut of gluttony which has descended upon the land, we shall verily need those. (As an aside, I asked, and these bodies will not allow us to partake of the sexual act, so we shall become more like our partners in the Coalition [No Sex, Please, We're British].

I tell you, when I hear Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stressing that we are at war, and especially, we are at war with Al Qaida, and that today's ruling by Federal Judge Taylor against the legality of the NSA wiretapping program is not legal, I can't help thinking about Mel Brook's prophetic lyrics from "The Inquisition" in his History
of the world. A sample:

The Inquisition, what a show.

The Inquisition, here we go.
We know you're wishin' that we'd go away!
So all you Muslims and you Jews
We got big news for all of yous:
You'd better change your point of views TODAY!
'Cause the Inquisition's here and it's here to stay!

The decision to disallow the secret wiretaps is now being appealed by the government.

My conservative friends defiantly say, "What have I to fear? I'm not plotting to bomb anyone? Let them tune in to my calls." But if you don't preserve everyone's rights, then no one is truly free. They would do well to listen to Pastor Niemoeller who famously said after WW II,

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

The same old argument is voiced by Gonzales and company, namely, that the President has unlimited wartime powers. It is upon this (mis)conception that his assertion hinges.

Perhaps we should be posing different questions. Perhaps the president's assumed powers are phony because the war itself is phony. I mean, are we at war because the president says so? It plays well when Star Trek's Captain Jean Luc Picard declares, "Make it so". But that's Hollywood, and besides, he's French, and we know what a flair for the self-important and the dramatic they possess. In the real world, even the president can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Isn't Congress invested with the Constitutional authority to declare war? This has not been done, as the hostilities that we are engaged in do not qualify for that title. Where is the war? Yes, soldiers are dying, people are dying, but where is this said war? I suggest that the military carte blanche issued by Congress to Bush is overdrawn, and should be canceled. The account should be closed.

The courts speak, and Bush ignores the rulings. Hamdan is still in limbo, and NSA is continuing to abuse the Constitution. Why doesn't Congress speak with their funding controls? Yeah, I know...we're at war with a tactic (i.e., terrorism).

The administration says that the wiretapping program is effective and makes us safer. But that is not the question. The question is, is it legal and constitutional, for these are the touchstones of all that we undertake in this country. To use a very blunt and gross oversimplification, if we were to simply bring a wrecking ball into the troublesome areas of Iraq and Afghanistan and flatten them, there would be no more trouble. But, we would have overstepped our bounds. Those may be "Hama rules," to borrow from Thomas Friedman, but Hama rules are no rules at all.

If we are not for upholding and abiding by our constitutional tenets, then we are lost.

The test for procedural legality lies with the court system. If Constitutional review has become merely a token gesture, then we have betrayed our founding principles. And principles do matter in this war of ideals. Last I looked, we were hoping to export a little democracy. You can't excise it at home, and think to seed it elsewhere, and on fallow soil, at that.

Let's leave emotionalism and partisanship behind and become a nation of law once again. The only hope for correction here is a strong and united judiciary, as the legislative seems to be out gathering brush with the executive. And they're doing one heckuva job of it.

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