Move Over Pearl Harbor

On December 8, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed December 7th a day that would live in infamy. I was a Junior in High School, and we listened to his speech on the radio in Spanish class. Up until now, that day has stood alone as one deserving such a description. It is no longer alone. September 11, 2001 was in the running to join it, but today's events make it pale in significance. Almost three thousand lives were lost on that day. Today, the hundreds of thousands of lives sacrificed to preserve our freedoms were thrown on history's trash heap. Today, George W. Bush signed into law the most despicable act of a despicable legislature. Today the guarantees of freedom from government abuse, which we have taken for granted throughout our history, disappeared—with the stroke of a pen. The ceremony was filled with enough sanctimony to sicken an elephant, but the damage to all of us has been done.

Until a case reaches the Supreme Court, the president or the Secretary of Defense can determine what constitutes an enemy combatant and throw away the key. You've heard the expression where the sun don't shine in a different context, but this one is really frightening. No longer is there a guarantee that you can know the charges against you, have the right to a speedy trial, or a trial at all for that matter, face your accuser, see the evidence against you, or the many rights we as Americans have enjoyed and, indeed, taken for granted. Our hopes are in the hands of one Supreme Court Associate Justice, Justice Kennedy. Four of the black robed deciders are in the president's camp. Four are usually on the side of liberty. One is a swing vote and can't be counted on, particularly in this case. He's already said it's up to the legislature and, unfortunately, that rubber stamp group has acted. October 17, 2006. Patrick Henry, where were you when we needed you?

Moral Quarrel

The arrogance of the ruling party may have finally come home to roost, leaving an opening for the Democrats to take charge of both Houses of Congress. If only one changes hands, my preference would be the Senate, because there are still two years left for Bush to mess with the Supreme Court.

If they do take over the legislature, I hope the Democrats will show some states­man­ship. Some things need to be undone if we expect a real future as a country, but such undoings must not be carried out like a vendetta, which has been part of the Repub­licans' problem. The only thing holding the disparate wings of the GOP together is their shared hatred of Bill Clinton. Homophobia is the glue that binds evangelicals to the party, greed holds the take-care-of-the-wealthy wing.

We cannot solve the national debt without more income. Tax revenue has modestly increased of late, but not nearly enough to make up for the enormous cost of the tax giveaway, and certainly not enough to pay for the war. Even the most conservative among us knows that we cannot cut government services enough to balance the budget. We need more income. This argument should be easy to understand for all who do not see themselves as welfare cases. Most Republicans believe in paying their bills, they just object to paying taxes. Perhaps we could bill them for their share of the interest on the national debt. We wouldn't call it a tax, just an interest payment.

The worst thing to have happened recently is the passage of a bill to set up military tribunals. That bill did away with the keystone of our system of jurisprudence, habeas corpus. The immediate purpose of the bill was—supposedly—for use against enemies of the state. Since anyone who disagrees with the current administration is unpatriotic, it is only a short step to labeling them traitors and terrorists.

After a charade in which four Republican Senators made a show of defending the Geneva Convention, the bill was passed that gives the president himself the power to decide what behaviors are within the parameters of that convention. It did away with most of the due process rights and built in a pardon for the president and all who work for him should they overstep the law. The battle the administration put up to defend the right to torture gives us a good idea what those parameters will be. It is my personal opinion that no legislator who voted for the bill should be allowed back into the Congress. They gave away rights that hundreds of thousands of our citizens have died to protect. It was unpatriotic and cowardly on their part.

Finally, Mr. Foley demonstrated the hypocrisy of the ruling party. It was not his homo­sexuality, nor was it his suggestive words. It was his abuse of power, pure and simple. The steps taken—or not taken—by the House leadership have simply extended that hypocrisy. It comes down to the old saying, "Those who walk on feet of clay must be careful where they stand to pray." Stay away from the street corner.