billmon scares the bejeebus out of me

Because I'm afraid he's right:

It appeareth plainly, to my understanding, both from reason and Scripture, that the sovereign power . . . is as great as possibly men can be imagined to make it. And though of so unlimited a power men may fancy many evil consequences, yet the consequences of the want of it, which is perpetual war of every man against his neighbor, are much worse.

Thomas Hobbes
The Leviathan
1651

If someone would just translate The Leviathan into modern colloquial English – or even better, turn it into a comic book – I think Shrub might discover a new favorite philosopher. Maybe not on same plane as Jesus Christ (and certainly not as politically advantageous) but a thinker even more in tune with his own ideas about the power and majesty of the unitary executive….

Of course, this potentially sets the scene for the next loop in the downward spiral towards a full-fledged police state. If and when the next terrorist attack comes, the natural response of the national security bureaucracy (and its legal camp followers) will be to insist the tragedy never would have happened if it had been given access to all the data it wanted, all the money it needed, and all the investigative powers it demanded. It’ll be the fighting-with-one-hand-tied-behind-our-back argument, re-imported from Iraq. And who’s going to say no when another major American landmark is a smoldering ruin?

Leviathan, in other words, is almost free of any restraint, save the arbitrary limits – such as they may be – set by the Cheney administration or, perhaps more importantly, by custom and habit. The creature doesn’t know all the things it can do, but only because it hasn’t tried to do them yet. But it’s starting to figure this out, and it’s going to take more than an election and a few corruption probes to make it back down. Having entrusted their security and their liberties to the beast, Leviathan’s subjects will be lucky not to wind up like Jonah, lodged in its belly.

Read the whole article (if you dare).

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About James G. Milles

Professor of Law, SUNY Buffalo Law School

Posted on May 13, 2006, in Freedom, Politics, Rights, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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