Archive for Monday, October 2, 2006

A shameful retreat from American values

October 2, 2006


I would not send my college kid off for a semester abroad if I were you. This week, we have suspended human rights in America, and what goes around comes around. Ixnay habeas corpus.

The U.S. Senate, in all its splendor and majesty, has decided that an "enemy combatant" is any non-citizen whom the president says is an enemy combatant, including your Korean greengrocer or your Swedish grandmother or your Czech au pair, and can be arrested and held for as long as authorities wish without any right of appeal to a court of law to examine the matter. If your college kid were to be arrested in Bangkok or Cairo, suspected of "crimes against the state," and held in prison, you'd assume that an American foreign service officer would be able to speak to your kid and arrange for a lawyer, but this may not be true anymore. Be forewarned.

The Senate also decided it's up to the president to decide whether it's OK to make these enemies stand naked in cold rooms for a couple days in blinding light and be beaten by interrogators. This is now purely a bureaucratic matter: The plenipotentiary stamps the file "enemy combatants" and throws the poor schnooks into prison and at his leisure he tries them by any sort of kangaroo court he wishes to assemble and they have no right to see the evidence against them, and there is no appeal. This was passed by 65 senators and will now be signed by Mr. Bush, put into effect, and in due course be thrown out by the courts.

It's good that Barry Goldwater is dead because this would have killed him. Go back to the Senate of 1964 - Goldwater, Dirksen, Russell, McCarthy, Javits, Morse, Fulbright - and you won't find more than 10 votes for it.

None of the men and women who voted for this bill has any right to speak in public about the rule of law anymore, or to take a high moral view of the Third Reich, or to wax poetic about the American Idea. Mark their names. Any institution of higher learning that grants honorary degrees to these people forfeits its honor. Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Burr, Carper, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Frist, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Kyl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, McConnell, Menendez, Murkowski, Nelson of Florida, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, Roberts, Rockefeller, Salazar, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Specter, Stabenow, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich, Warner.

To paraphrase Sir Walter Scott: Mark their names and mark them well. For them, no minstrel raptures swell. High though their titles, proud their name, boundless their wealth as wish can claim, these wretched figures shall go down to the vile dust from whence they sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung.

Three Republican senators made a show of opposing the bill and after they'd collected all the praise they could get, they quickly folded. Why be a hero when you can be fairly sure that the court will dispose of this piece of garbage.

If, however, the court does not, then our country has taken a step toward totalitarianism. If the government can round up someone and never be required to explain why, then it's no longer the United States of America as you and I always understood it. Our enemies have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They have made us become like them.

I got some insight last week into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for "Homegrown Democrat," but they thought it better if I didn't mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, "I don't need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics - I'm a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service." And the audience applauded! Those were their sentiments exactly. We've got ours, and who cares?

The Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise, so why should they worry? It's only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing just fine. If you can't trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?

- Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country, including KANU, 91.5 FM, in Lawrence.


bearded_gnome 11 years, 8 months ago


more exageration, repeating same old tired falsehoods...etc. besides, why is Glarison spieler in the paper anyway, rather unbalanced presentation.

davisnin 11 years, 8 months ago

Def of torture:

  1. Standing
  2. Being cold
  3. Being naked
  4. Getting wet

synonym: shower

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

Well, C-man, he's better at comedy than you are, and comedic relief is all you ever have to offer.

BG-- what are the exaggerations and the falsehoods? Seems to me everything he said was perfectly true and accurate. Tell me why I'm wrong in believing so.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

How about you volunteer for one of these "showers" davisnin, and then tell us how you like it.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 8 months ago

65 votes to protect the CIA folks from prosecution to get information, AND to prevent our military from going into those issues that would put them at risk? That is a problem for Garrision?

65 votes to let tribunals take precedence and allow the Geneva Conventions?

Partisian biolsolids is all this is.

Last time I checked more than 60 votes was a "supermajority" that could call for cloture on any vote.

IT seems as if this is the "Will of the people". Too bad Garrision and those that agree with his take (off center as it is) is not in the majority or votes, NOR in the majority of polls on the submject.

What, you want to give non-citizen jihadists muslims (with no national armed affiliation) constitutional protections?

You must be mad, and those that are enemies are laughing at your stupidity and weakness.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Awesome column. I'm not surprised that the Senate voted for this, though. What a disgusting law. The courts better throw it out.

Unbalanced, gnome? See Cal Thomas (idiot) and George Will (idiot). The number of op-eds that the JW publishes is balanced. It's so ridiculous to insult the media who publish this than trying to understand the reasoning behind the very subject that angers you.

Garrison Keillor: "This law is a step towards totalitarianism!" it is Gnome: "This is biased!" it isn't

ASBESTOS 11 years, 8 months ago

"Garrison Keillor: "This law is a step towards totalitarianism!" it is"

Is not!

What a great argument you pose Tychoman. Very adult, just blather.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 8 months ago

Logic what you call "torutre" is simply not.

As for the will of the people, that is what the vote states, the "will of the people" are by elected "representatives" to do their bidding.

What part of that do you not understand, OH yeah, I guess all of it.

BTW, Geneva Conventions are only to be applied in the original to "uniformed soldiers", which would not include the terrorists and islamic facists you love so much and want to protect. Additionally "Geneva Convention protection" (There was only one convention) does not protect American Citizens around the world anyway, we are TOAST. Ask any AMerican whom was ever incarcerated abroad. They did not get "Geneva COnvention portection.

You clearly are just talking and do not know what you are saying.

What an idiot you are!

You post is also inconsistent and not coherent, please restate the post in the form of a statement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

What's your point, Asbestos?

Do you think torture should be allowed?

Should the US government be able to kidnap anyone and imprison them indefinitely just because they feel like it?

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