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The Abyss of Tyranny

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A mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits (of government) is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands." - James Madison, Federalist Paper #48, 1788


We are living through perhaps the darkest period in American history so far. Our president has made it clear to all Americans & the world that he somehow inherited the extrajudicial authority to assassinate anyone he decides needs to be assassinated. That isn't really news to most of us because the CIA, NSA & miscellaneous other bloody spooks have been doing that for a long time. But Bush II was the first president to so brazenly say to us that he would kill anyone he, as the "decider," decided needed killing. No warrants, no tacit or statute based permission from Congress, no declaration of war, just that vague & devious authorization that whatever Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice & the rest of that bucket of snakes that was Bush II's administration decided the president needed to do was going to be done.

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How could they do this? American presidents don't order clandestine executions. Isn't America a country dedicated to the rule of law? Well, actually, no. Not any longer. It really should be admitted that all this is unfair to Bush II & Obama because it's common knowledge that American presidents have been doing this for awhile. The difference is that prior to Bush II & Obama they had the decency to lie about it.

So, how can they do this? They can do it because we have a morally inert Congress & the American people let them do it.

Bush II predicted that Barack Obama as president would follow his example in this & he was right. He has. During his election campaign he promised he would hold criminals, even the criminals at the highest levels of our government, accountable. None of the war criminals in President Bush II's regime have been held accountable by President Obama. There have been no trials. There are no trials scheduled. There will be no trials.


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Christian Republicans simply say there were no crimes. Period. They tell us that not only do American presidents not have to be concerned about "quaint" laws like the Geneva Conventions & international law altogether, but American presidents, at least Republican ones, don't have to pay attention to similarly quaint laws like our constitution & all the domestic laws & protections based on it. American presidents are exceptionally exceptional. If we decide murder is legal, then it's legal. If we decide assassinating an entire family, or a town, because they have something we want, or think thoughts we don't like, we have a right to do that & we do not require permission from anyone on the face of the earth. Obama is making it clear he is OK with all this & that Democrats who make it to the Whitehouse get to kill anyone they please as well.

When an American president decides to kill someone, every American man, woman & child in this country shares the guilt of that murder. It's called tyranny. The way it works is you either endorse it & participate in it or you become a victim of it. As Bush II made very clear- you are either with us, or you are against us.

A fundamental principle of our constitution is that every human being on this earth has a right to live free of the fear of being murdered by an American president. Whether Americans like it or not & no matter what our presidents tell us, we don't have the right to wander the world killing people because they have something we want & we have the power to take it.

Americans of faith need to come to terms with the crimes committed in their name. It doesn't matter whether your Aunt Polly, Pat Robertson or Phoolan Devi tells you it's OK. It isn't. No American can claim to be devoted to God's law & support the barren evils of our current policies. Would Jesus or Mohammed use a drone to kill women & children in Iraq? Afghanistan?   Pakistan? Iran? Honduras? Texas? In the back yard of the ingrates next door?   Hitler would & did. Now we're doing it.

Clearly, as Madison expressed it in 1788, our constitution is not strong enough to prevent the absolute corruption of absolute power. The Supreme Court has made it clear they will not use the law to defend these hard won constitutional protections. They have established unequivocally that everything is for sale & that ethical directives are irrelevant.

So far, Americans support this unprecedented belligerence. So far, there is no meaningful evidence that Americans are troubled by any of this. Obama has made it very clear he intends to continue the killings. The question isn't whether America has stepped into an abyss, but rather whether there is any return. History suggests there isn't. History suggests we become what we hate.

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Richard W. Overfield is an artist/writer currently based in New Mexico after living in Vancouver, Canada for 20 years.His paintings are represented in over 300 public & private collections in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, France, England, Japan & (more...)

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