[THS] Matt Taibbi: Miran-Duhhhhh!
The Harder Stuff in news and commentary
ths at psalience.org
Wed May 12 16:10:42 CEST 2010
"It seems to me that a huge problem that Americans on both sides of the aisle have is that they believe in personal freedom, but only for themselves; for the other guy they seem always to want a powerful and intrusive federal government."
By Matt Taibbi
May 11, 2010 "True Slant" -- WASHINGTON
The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators
to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney
General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square
bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan.
via Attorney General Backs Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects NYTimes.com.
Memo to those Tea Party activists out there whove been howling about those liberal
wusses in the Obama Justice Department who read Faisal Shahzad his Miranda
rights: congratulations. Youve just opened the door for a major new expansion of
Having followed the Tea Party around on and off for a few months now its been
hard not to notice some of the contradictory messages emanating from the
movement. Youll hear the same people who want to abolish the EPA complaining
about the slow federal response to the Gulf oil spill, or the same people who are
stocking up on guns to ward off the inevitable government assault on their property
cheering for beefed-up drug enforcement laws and the no-knock search warrant.
The reason I really respect the Ron Paul people is that theyre consistent on all of
these things. If they dont want the government telling you you cant buy a gun, they
also dont want the federal government telling you not to smoke weed or patronize a
prostitute. Paul understands that you cant make appeals on general principle unless
you actually believe in that principle across the board.
It seems to me that a huge problem that Americans on both sides of the aisle have is
that they believe in personal freedom, but only for themselves; for the other guy they
seem always to want a powerful and intrusive federal government. Red staters and
blue staters are both equally guilty of this in my experience. You get conservatives
asking for a federal ban on gay marriage and then in the same breath screaming
that abortion should be a states-rights issue. And you get progressives who want to
pass their own state-by-state medical marijuana laws clamoring for federal bans on
well, Im digressing. The point is that this gesture by Eric Holder to drop to his
knees and pray at the altar of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin is one
of those things that both sides are going to end up seriously regretting.
For the Democrats, it will surely end up being one of the darker moments of the
Obama presidency not because its necessarily so terribly meaningful (at least
compared to ending Too-Big-to-Fail), but because it represents a new low on the
utter-lack-of-balls front. The only reason were even talking about this Miranda issue
is because a bunch of morons on talk radio made a big fuss about it, and if our
president is going to go sticking his thumbs into the constitution every time he cant
take a few days of getting reamed by a bunch of overpaid media shills whose job it is
to hate him no matter what he does, then were all in a lot of trouble.
For the conservatives/Tea Partiers/Republicans (note that I have to make separate
notations for each, since theyre not all necessarily the same people anymore), this
Miranda furor is yet another one of those humorously contradictory political
campaigns of the Keep the Guvmint off my Medicare variety that theyre becoming
known for. Im beginning to think that if the Tea Party had a symbol, it shouldnt be
the snake from that Dont Tread on Me flag, it should be a drooling yutz sticking a
pencil in his own ear.
The reason for that is that the Tea Party angle on this Miranda business is that they
want to strip terrorist suspects of liberal/civil rights-era protections, and they think
that foregoing their Miranda rights is a good way to get there. What they dont get is
that the inevitable consequence in this sort of meddling in constitutional theory is that
were going to carve out exceptions to constitutional applicability for certain classes of
people. Were obviously not going to repeal the 5th amendment granting protection
to American citizens against self-incrimination; and if were not going to tinker with
that basic right we all enjoy, then the only other way around it is to start tinkering
with the concept of whos a citizen and who isnt.
Weve already seen a more than unusually ridiculous illustration of this instinct, with
all-century blowhard Joe Lieberman coming up with a wacko plan to strip terrorist
suspects of their citizenship, a completely useless idea that wouldnt speed up
interrogations one whit and in fact add nothing but another layer of bureaucracy to
prosecutions of terrorism cases. This is an idea that has no practical application, but
has a very broad theoretical consequence.
Basically weve opened the door for a discussion on whether or not it makes sense to
selectively suspend the constitutional rights of Americans on a case-by-case basis. Id
like to see how the Tea Party responds to this concept the next time the ATF drives a
tank into the compound of some group like the Michigan Militia. Given that theyre
part of a movement that is driven almost entirely by a paranoid fear of the exploding
powers of government, its bizarre to see these people signing on for the corruption
of the 5th Amendment. But then again, no one ever accused these people of being
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