Constitutional Couch Potatoes
How much longer will MSNBC allow Keith Olbermann get away with telling the truth?
Olbermann, seemingly a lone wolf in the corporate media wilderness, had Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, on his Countdown show earlier this week. Turley lambasted Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006, otherwise known as the death of habeas corpus, the very linchpin of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Military Commissions Act, Turley argued, is “a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn’t rely on their good motivations.”
As we know, or should know, the mood of this “president,” who is in fact not a president because he was not elected, is that of Tomás de Torquemada, the Inquisitor General of the Spanish Inquisition. Bush, as unitary decider, is interested in his own version of the auto de fe, the condemnation and punishment of heretics and apostates opposed to the religion of the state.
Most of us, as Turley explained, simply cannot be bothered to notice. According to Turley, we have “become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ I mean, it’s otherworldly.” Olbermann posited a legal challenge, and Turley responded: “I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this president from taking over—taking almost absolute power. It basically comes down to a single vote on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy. And he indicated that if Congress gave the president these types of powers, that he might go along.”
In other words, the bastards hamstrung us while we were sleeping, or rather watching with carefree amusement and distraction the antics of the Anna Nicole Show, the Osbournes, the Girls Next Door, et al, ad nauseam. As Jonathan Swift once noted, we get the government we deserve, or maybe it should be we get the sort of government criminals devise while we are busy doing something else, too distracted to notice, too apathetic to give a damn.
“I am not too sure how we got to this point,” Turley admitted. “But people clearly don’t realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I’m not too sure we’re going to change back anytime soon.”
No, we will not regain our constitutional republic without a fight. But the question is, will the bovine public, fundamentally ignorant of the Constitution, resist tyranny? Are we too domesticated and comfortable to do the right thing?
Do we even know what the right thing is?
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