Detaining Citizens and Shutting Down Free Speech

(photo source)

So, as we approach the end of 2011 and enter full-force into the tumult of another election year, just a show of hands, here. How many are starting to believe — like the lady in the next chair in my hair salon — that “there’s not gonna be another election: this maniac is going to declare a state of emergency and stay in power forever.”

Which if I recall, was pretty much what the left was warning about George W. Bush, at around this time, in 2007. (Just google “Bush” and “martial law”!)

I don’t care what Hofstadter said, the Paranoid Style has been a constant two-party phenom for a while, now. Both parties. All the time.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that we slip out of this year with the government pondering ways to shut down the internet and to, um…detain American Citizens in unprecedented ways:

Under the legislation suspects can be held without trial “until the end of hostilities”. They will have the right to appear once a year before a committee that will decide if the detention will continue.

The Senate is expected to give final approval to the bill before the end of the week. It will then go to the president, who previously said he would block the legislation not on moral grounds but because it would “cause confusion” in the intelligence community and encroached on his own powers.

But on Wednesday the White House said Obama had lifted the threat of a veto after changes to the law giving the president greater discretion to prevent individuals from being handed to the military.

He was gonna veto the thing, you see…until they re-wrote it to give the president more power. Which will always be used wisely, of course.

Just think — it wasn’t all that long ago President Obama was saying terror suspects should be read their Miranda rights

Meanwhile, although the Senate is giving this miserable bill wide bi-partisan support, somehow…it’s all those damned Republicans, again:

Critics accused the president of caving in again to pressure from some Republicans on a counter-terrorism issue for fear of being painted in next year’s election campaign as weak and of failing to defend America.

Human Rights Watch said that by signing the bill Obama would go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.

Funnily enough, for a president who wants to bypass congress whenever possible, he doesn’t mind working with them on this one, at all.

The lady in the next chair at the salon is feeling paranoid. Among the haircutters and customers, there is a narrative building: “There’s a giant new building — they say it’s a ’tissue factory’ but there’s all this security!” “There is a big rail engine (‘you can see it from the Expressway!’) and new tracks are being laid, to support big cargo to and from the tissue factory!” “That’s a lot of tissue!”

And Soylent Green is people. Sigh. We are living in mad, crazy days.

Read more here and here and yeah, here.

This is a really big deal. And the government is pushing it through when everyone is distracted by Christmas.

I’ve linked to this exquisite little short film before, but somehow these headlines and the paranoia under the foil and heat lamps are making me yearn for something this sweet, familiar and fully of hope.

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