by Deck Deckert
The Yyuran Series
(Swans - January 16, 2006) "Your President Bush sounds like he wants to be a dictator," my Martian friend Yyuran said to me the other day.
"Now what are you babbling about?" I said.
"For one thing, he's spying on you."
I chuckled. "Nobody is spying on me." Yyuran can be a bit paranoid sometimes.
"He's got the NSA to wiretap thousands of Americans."
"Oh, them. Terrorists."
"At least people he claims have some ties to terrorism."
"There you go," I said.
"Because he or the NSA says they have some ties to terrorism doesn't mean they actually do. He was supposed to get a court to OK the wiretapping, but he didn't."
"He has the right to do that. He is the President, after all."
"Even a president has to obey the law."
"When it's a matter of national security," I said, "he can do what he wants. We're at war, after all, and he is the Commander in Chief."
"You are arguing that the president has the constitutional right as Commander in Chief to break any US law on the grounds of national security?"
"In times of war, yes."
"So if he starts a war -- any war, any time, any place he wants -- it gives him a license to break any law he wants to?"
Putting it that way, he made it sound a bit extreme. He's good at that, always trying to trip me up, when I support the president. I was getting annoyed. "You are trying to make him sound ridiculous," I said. "We're at war, the War on Terror."
"The War on Terror has no fronts, no boundaries, no opposing army, and no possible victory," he said.
"Exactly. That's why is it is so important for the president to have special powers."
"That's giving him infinite dictatorial power," he said. "You're saying that he is above the law, any law, for as long as the War on Terror lasts."
Yyuran can be so naïve. Maybe all Martians are. I don't know, he's the only Martian I've met.
"That doesn't make him a dictator," I said. "Don't be ridiculous."
"Maybe not yet. But he claims he has unlimited powers to fight terrorism. He can spy on anyone, arrest anyone, and kidnap anyone and ship him to another country to be tortured merely on the suspicion that he might be a terrorist. And he argues that this power lasts until there is no more terrorism in the world."
"Well, it will be a long fight," I said.
"Forever," he said. "But not everybody is buying his argument. Justice O'Connor says 'A state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens.'"
I don't know where he gets all his information. Probably from the Internet. He's on the Internet a lot, something I showed him how to do when he first got here from Mars. I'm rather sorry that I did that. I sighed.
"He's a good man."
"A compassionate conservative."
"Exactly," I started to say, then realized he was being sarcastic. I sighed again.
"He has been signing laws passed by Congress and saying at the same time that they don't apply to him."
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said.
"When he signs some laws, like the law against torture, he has been saying that they don't really apply to the White House. He said he could bypass the law if he wanted to under his powers as Commander in Chief."
"Well," I said, "that's just a fight with Congress. They can sort it out."
"It's a very important thing. No other citizen can decide what laws he wants to obey. And don't you think it is a bit sick for the president to reserve the right to torture?"
He was getting tedious, with his constant complaints about the president.
"Like the president said, there is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate," I said. "He was talking about the Iraq war, but it's the same thing. And you are being irresponsible."
"You think any criticism of the president is irresponsible."
"Well, most of it is anyhow, when we're at war."
"It's a war of his own choosing, and he appears to be losing it. And while he concentrates on that, the whole country appears to be going the way of New Orleans."
That was a low blow. And I decided not to talk to him any more. When he gets into a judgmental mood, he's impossible.
Yyuran too needs to put food on the table. Pleasepay his bills.