Pictorial Commentary On First Line In

A Pictorial Commentary on the first Line in Bush’s Inaugural Speech

The full transcript is here. Pictures are clickable.

” . . . on this day prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution and recall the deep commitments that unite our country.”

Let us consider the durable vision of our Constitution and the commitments that unite us as Americans, viz., the Bill of Rights. And let us ask whether Bush’s first term left it intact:

Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,

or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

or abridging the freedom of speech,

or of the press;

or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,

and to petition the government for a redress of grievances . . .

Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense . . .

Amendment VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Bush has sworn an oath to uphold the US Constitution. He won’t. But Congress can. It should insist that the sunset provisions of the so-called “Patriot Act” (which should be called the “Abrogation of the Constitution Act”) be allowed to expire in 2005 and that the extremely dangerous “Patriot Act II” be completely rolled back. Republicans who care about the Constitution should join Democrats who care about the Constitution in putting a stake through the heart of this abomination. A noble 200-year-old experiment in civil liberties and democracy, for which US troops are giving their lives, must not be ended by a single act of terrorism and a clique of authoritarians in Washington.

Bush’s speech was about bringing liberty to the rest of the world. Let’s see if he can first do something to restore to the American public the liberties we enjoyed, as free men and women, until 2001. Let’s see if he can bring US government policies back into alignment with the Geneva Conventions and other international law on human rights, to which the US is signatory. Only then would he have earned the right to even think about trying to extend liberty to others. As of now, folks, your library records can be viewed at will by agents of the US government, and the librarian is forbidden to reveal to anyone that the government looked at these documents. Not only is a warrant not required, but even the invasion of your privacy is top secret and you will never know about it. Can anyone even prove that the 19 hijackers of 9/11 ever checked a book out of a US library? The Republic may not be able to withstand four more years of this.