Thursday, September 28, 2006

The law that makes us a nation of men - or one man

In 1898, Congress imposed what was billed as a temporary luxury tax on phone calls. One cent per telephone call was collected from the wealthy, as on the wealthiest Americans had phones back then. By 1990, the federal excise tax had grown to 3% of the total phone bill. This year Congress did something that it almost never does - it killed a tax. It only took 108 years after the war ended to get around to killing the tax. Oh Great Curmudgeon, why do you tell us this? What could this Charles Osgood-like look back on history have to do with the problems ("challenges" in today's political lexicon) we face today? Because once a law gets on the books it's just about impossible to get rid of them. And why is that important? In a word: torture.

"What this bill would do is take our civilization back 900 years," to before the adoption of the writ of habeas corpus in medieval England, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) said. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), said the bill as written would allow the executive branch to hold any lawful immigrant in the United States indefinitely without charge. "We are about to put the darkest blot on the conscience of the nation," he said, charging that the push for quick passage was purely for political gain. "There is no new national security crisis," he said. "There’s only a Republican political crisis." The New York Times sums up the new law -- it gives, "Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error."
Andrew Sullivan begs his readers to vote for Democrats to stop, "this [Republican] juggernaut against individual libery and constitutional rights." The Times further added, "Americans of the future won't remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration. They'll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."

Just like the Spanish-American War telephone excise tax, these "temporary" measures in place only as long as he endless war on terror continues will not be excised off the books in our or our children's or their children's lifetimes. And by the way - callers will still pay a 3% excise tax on local phone calls so the tax really is still there. Just like The Decider's (Bush's) new unchecked power to label whomever he wants an "enemy combatant," disappear them into a black hole of a prison gulag system forever without the right to know the charges or evidence against them, contact a lawyer or relative and in theory could be put to death without knowing why. I'd rather have the excise tax but it looks like we'll have both. There was a time when I would dismiss people who said democracy was dying in this country. Guess I was wrong to doubt them. On the other hand, there will be less consitutional rights to learn about in social studies, history or constitution law classes.


Anonymous Rand P Lance said...

Personally I refuse to pay the 3% on my long distance charges. I notifed my phone company that they have no right to collect this and to credit my account effective Sept. 2006. If it continues to show up, I will deduct that amount from my bills.
It is unconstitutional to pay a tax with a tax, and since our money is no longer backed by precious metals (please see the one inch blurb on page three in Time Magazine issued on the day of Kennedy's Funeral stating the FED declared the end of the Silver Standard) it is a only a is illegal for me to pay a tax with a tax.
If your charges are paid, they cannot disconnect your service, they are only an agent for the government to collect these taxes.
'We The People...'

7:00 AM  

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