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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tyranny For Dummies

by digby

Next time someone in a tri-corner hat starts waving the constitution in your face, ask them about today's Senate Homeland Security hearings, where the conservatives had a complete fit at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's complaint that people on the terrorist watch list can buy any gun they like and there's nothing anyone can do about it --- while at the same time they all thoughtfully pondered whether or not we should strip them of their citizenship. I'm not kidding.

MSNBC covered the story this way, starting with the man who has been saying that we are terribly unsafe if Guantanamo prisoners are tried in America and that we need to have a many tiered system of justice in terrorism cases. Just don't let anyone see if terrorist suspects might be buying their weapons in America, because that would be unconstitutional:
Lindsay Graham: [speaking of restricting people on the terrorist watch list from buying automatic weapons] this is not going in the right direction because we're dealing with a constitutional right. And I am very concerned about the gaps in our defenses. But maybe I'm not making a good argument to you but it makes perfect sense to me that losing the ability to own a gun which is a constitutional right using this list the way it's constructed is unnerving at best.

Total intellectual incoherence is what's unnerving.

Andrea Mitchell and Kelly O'Donnell took it from there:

O'Donnell: The question is, if you are on a terrorist watch list, can the government step in a stop you from buying a weapon when it goes through the typical process of having those background checks? And at present the answer is no. They may identify it, they may watch that person and we've been told today that more than eleven hundred times since 2004 and 2010, someone who is on a watch list has bought a firearm in the United States. They have not been able to tell is there is any tie between any of those persons and those who get accused of actually committing some act of terror.

That's because they are not allowed to keep the records of who buys guns. She went on to say that Senator Congressman King want to tighten this and followed up with analysis:

O'Donnell: But as you heard Lindsay Graham, who is an expert on this because he serves in the Air Force as a lawyer and the JAG and has studied a lot of this, gun issues are tough.

So they highlighted an issue. There is a lot of concern from the conservative side that United States citizens could be in a situation where they would not be able to get a gun. We also know there are circumstances that already exist where there are restrictions for mental problems or felons and those kinds of things. This is a new area where they are trying to tie terrorist watch lists to limiting gun access. And it was certainly a way to air it out. But they are far from being able to resolve this kind of issue.

Ok. So the conservatives believe that the constitution is inviolate and can't be tweaked just because we don't like the outcome. I can roll with that.

Except, as well know, they don't believe that at all:

Mitchell: And the chairman of the committee, Joe Lieberman, he also suggested that he thinks it's time to strip someone who's under a watch list of their citizenship. We heard John McCain say earlier today that there should not have been the mirandizing so there are a lot of what critics of the administration are going to be saying, Republicans are going to be raising a whole lot of issues

O'Donnell: All about how you would proceed. Especially if one is a naturalized citizen as was the case in the Times Square incident. Could you pull away some of the rights that we as American citizens would have? That's part of what is prompting Lieberman's comments. And if you were even a natural born citizen and would commit what they said would be an act of treason would you then forfeit your citizenship benefits?

And there was a discussion today that under one set of facts a citizen could be determined to be an enemy combatant, a classification that gives the government some different avenues to go through prosecution. These are really tough issue because they go right to the heart of the constitution and right to current day events that have everyone on edge.
Yeah, they're tough alright because they don't make any fucking sense. You can't take away someone's right to own a gun if they are on the watch list, but you can take away their citizenship? Being accused of treason could lead you to lose your citizenship? What are these people smoking?

Why not say that you lose your citizenship for committing any crime? (Well, as long as it doesn't involve depriving you of your right to bear arms --- which is so inviolate that even terrorist suspects can't be profiled on that basis.) Seriously, we could all make ourselves so much "safer" if we just got rid of the whole citizenship and rights thing altogether and allowed the government to just convene kangaroo courts and do with us what they will.

And those who labor under the illusion that not being middle eastern will protect them need to think again. Here's what a recent terrorist suspect looks like, after all:

I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that tea partiers are having fits over a health care plan which they claim is a usurpation of our constitutional rights, but stripping Americans of their citizenship when someone suspects them of a crime is worth considering. Torture and indefinite imprisonment are perfectly in keeping with our founding principles but asking people to fill out a census form is Big Brother in action. Profiling anyone who some beat cop thinks might not be a citizen is a-ok, but making it difficult for terrorist suspects to buy a gun is an assault on the constitution. What the hell?

I don't think "tyranny" means what these people think it means. These poor deluded people seem to actually believe that owning a gun is the only thing they need to protect their rights. That is a very silly idea.

Update: If you think that it's equally silly to let everyone in the country, no matter what the circumstances, have free access to guns, you can sign this petition.

Antonio Villaraigosa signs on with Bloomberg on this issue.