You've probably heard about the fears of indefinite detention by the military in the new NDAA bill. Depending on who you talk to, it is clearly in there, not in there at all, or seems like it could be included in it through some language sprinkled throughout the clauses.
I don't know.
Tea Party favorite Rep. Alan West says it's ok. Tea Party favorite Sen. Mike Lee says it's uber-bad news. Do you have time to read a 600 page bill? I'm sad to say that I don't. I gave my effort on the TARP bills. And on the Obamacare Bill. And on the BBA bill. I'm tapped out at the moment. What does it matter anyway? As the boys in The Federalist Papers noted in #62,
"The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?"When the laws are too many, too long, and too frequently changed... no one can know what anything really means... even if you tried to. And past the beginning of this latest fiasco... I haven't. And that might be my undoing, since, by some of the interpretations of the term 'terrorist' by our very own DHS - I do after all have a copy of the Constitution and occasionally display the flag - I could find myself on that list. Hey, look on the bright side, maybe they'd send my oldest Son, or his best friend to pick me up.
So sure the wiener roust is funny.
But the law isn't.
Even if the language has been cleared up, as my Rep. Akin assures me it has,
"There has been a lot of confusion over what this provision will mean, and many people have been concerned that it will allow American citizens to be arrested and detained for indefinite periods of time, simply based on suspicion and no real evidence. I agree that this would be a serious violation of Constitutional rights and the due process of law. Earlier versions of the bill were unclear on this point; however, the conference report on H.R. 1540 was the final version that passed the House on December 14, and it renders all previous versions void.", it's only language... and any set of legislators and justices who can interpret with a straight face, the wording of the single clearl line of the Commerce Clause, to mean that a farmer growing food for his own use could be considered to be violating laws based upon the constitution (oh yeah, I'll get to that in a minute), then... your confidence in your language might be... misplaced. For now I'm betting that no matter how satisfied 'common sense conservatives' are with this bill's 600+ pages of statements and exceptions, and retractions and restatements... if those in power want to read into it whatever powers they'd like to - they will.
When clear meaning is called a fancy... why bother questioning anything at all?
If you read this bill as plainly meaning what its language plainly states it should... you are living in the real world. Unfortunately, our government is not living in that same real world. Our government is living in a world where it can take language like this,
"To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;", even when the possibility that it could be used in any other way, would be understood by any responsible person as to make the entire structure of the Constitution pointless; as Justice Joseph Story put it in his commentaries on the Constitution,
"Neither is it disputed, that the laying of duties is, or may be an appropriate means of regulating commerce. But the question is a very different one, whether, under pretence of an exercise of the power to regulate commerce, congress may in fact impose duties for objects wholly distinct from commerce. The question comes to this, whether a power, exclusively for the regulation of commerce, is a power for the regulation of manufactures? The statement of such a question would seem to involve its own answer. Can a power, granted for one purpose, be transferred to another? If it can, where is the limitation in the constitution? Are not commerce and manufactures as distinct, as commerce and agriculture? If they are, how can a power to regulate one arise from a power to regulate the other? It is true, that commerce and manufactures are, or may be, intimately connected with each other. A regulation of one may injuriously or beneficially affect the other. But that is not the point in controversy. It is, whether congress has a right to regulate that, which is not committed to it, under a power, which is committed to it, simply because there is, or may be an intimate connexion between the powers. If this were admitted, the enumeration of the powers of congress would be wholly unnecessary and nugatory. Agriculture, colonies, capital, machinery, the wages of labour, the profits of stock, the rents of land, the punctual performance of contracts, and the diffusion of knowledge would all be within the scope of the power; for all of them bear an intimate relation to commerce. The result would be, that the powers of congress would embrace the widest extent of legislative functions, to the utter demolition of all constitutional boundaries between the state and national governments. "Even given all that, our government was still able to take that, twist it, and do so in front of the Supreme Court court, and in a manner that is very much in line with the wildest dreams of our legislatures of the last couple years. They did that and still do so publicly, without causing any concern to many of our citizens, professors and media types beyond number. None of the smarter set even blink today at the notion of twisting the Commerce Clause into a statist tool of justification for jailing a small, family farmer, for the economic crime of growing his own crops, for his own use - not to sell, but to feed his own livestock. That was done with FDR's New Deal case, Wickard v. Filburn, and it is held up as a respectable precedent today - they simply said 'oh sure he's doing on his own land, for his own use, but hey, because he isn't buying it from someone else, that affects national markets and interstate commerce,
"...But even if appellee's activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce and this irrespective of whether such effect is what might at some earlier time have been defined as 'direct' or 'indirect.'"Sooo... because he didn't do something... that makes it legal cause for you to be fined, even jailed, because you didn't commit a crime that might have been a crime if you did... WTF?!. And that was in a time when the world still seemed sensible. What chance have you possibly got in a world like today, a legal world, mind you, such as that - it taxes the mind, so to speak, that you could possibly count on common sense understanding of anything.
Our government lives in a dream world of their own design, and they use their dreams of what they'd like the world to be like, as 'constitutional' excuses for doing anything and everything they want to do - if they even feel the need to cite anything at all. And of such dreams, my nightmares are made of.
So enjoy your hotdogs while you can. Before you're rousted that is.