Dictatorial powers for Clinton ?

by John Quiggin on October 1, 2006

The passage by the US Congress of a bill that among other things abolishes habeas corpus for terrorism suspects, allows interrogation methods that would normally be classed as torture, and allows the President to declare legal residents of the United States to be enemy combatants has produced a predictably partisan divide. All but two Senate Republicans voted for the Bill (Lincoln Chafee opposed and Olympia Snowe did not vote), and most pro-Republican bloggers seem to have backed it with marginal qualifications.

Those of us who fear and distrust the Bush Administration naturally find it easy to see what harm could be done with powers like this. The Administration’s supporters, on the other hand, seem confident that only the likes of David Hicks and Jose Padilla have anything to fear.

So, for those who support the bill, it might be useful to consider the standard thought experiment recommended to all who support dictatorial powers for a leader on their own side. Think about what the other side might do with these powers.

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You can’t spell W. without the V.

by John Holbo on October 1, 2006

I finally got around to watching V for Vendetta [imdb]. Being a comics nerd, I am mildly bothered by the departures from the original (wikipedia will tell you all about it) – and more so by the fact that the author, Alan Moore, didn’t want this. So he got his name struck from the project. (Then they went and packaged a whole teaser section from his graphic novel with the DVD. Chance of Moore disassociating himself from the Wachowski bros.? Not so much.)

I found it a pretty good film. Entertaining. Nicely slick. Thought-provoking? In some ways I think the less ambiguous treatment of the material suits the material, although in other ways it dumbs it down. But here’s my simple thought: the film pretty clearly intends to be anti-Bush allegory or what have you. (You can cut it finer, but it comes to that.) Yet you could turn around and say: but the whole Iraq mess depends precisely on people finding this sort of political romanticism far too realistic for their own good. The dream of an Event – an explosion – after which, miraculously, everyone comes out into the public square and spontaneously dons the mask of their destructive liberator. Freedom forever! Unity through demolition. And there will be flowers. Why would you think postwar planning wasn’t necessary? [click to continue…]