Sunday, January 1, 2012

Even sincere promises are not enough, sometimes

So in the end Obama signed the new defense bill allowing American citizens to be detained indefinitely, but he attempts to console the public by pledging that it will not be used by his administration against our own people.

You want to know why I'm not in the least bit consoled?

In the very best case scenario where we take him at his word and he's as good as he pledges, we've got four years at best to enjoy the respite.  It's possible we've only got one if he doesn't get re-elected.

The problem is that it almost seems that this constitutional scholar doesn't understand the reasons for having a constitution very well.  It's a document that when it is actually enforced protects us not only from the excesses of those in power at the moment, but those in power in the years to come.  I do believe Obama is a decent man, and I will take him at his word for the nonce, but his word does not bind the hands of his successors.  He has given permission for Presidents from this day forward to "disappear" anyone who they find troublesome.

The sad part is that I've recognized this flaw in even benevolent dictatorships for decades, and it was due to yet another comic book.  In the early 80s, Marvel produced Squadron Supreme, a story in which a team of heroes decide that the best way to save the world is to rule it.  They set themselves up as the final arbiters of all that is just and begin a program of disarming America and brainwashing criminals to prevent them from ever committing another crime.  They are opposed by Nighthawk, a former member who sees what they are doing as wrong and puts together a counter-team of heroes to defend traditional freedoms.  The twelve issue series culminates with a battle between the two, and toward the end of the fight Nighthawk has the opportunity to express his concerns to the temporarily incapacitated leader of the Squadron, Hyperion:
From Squadron Supreme # 12 by Mark Gruenwald and Paul Ryan, 1986.  

Why is it so hard for our leaders to understand this very simple truth of governing?

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