They’ll have to change the Harvey Birdman song

In 2004 I was critical of liberals who declared their intention to leave the country if Bush was re-elected. However, recent developments have made me see it in a different light—there is something to be said for living in a country where habeas corpus rights are still respected. Note that Canada is not quite far enough away.
Senator Russ Feingold:

One of the most disturbing provisions of this bill eliminates the right of habeas corpus for those detained as enemy combatants. I support an amendment by Senator Specter to strike that provision from the bill. I ask unanimous consent that my separate statement on that amendment be put in the record at the appropriate point.
Habeas corpus is a fundamental recognition that in America, the government does not have the power to detain people indefinitely and arbitrarily. And that in America, the courts must have the power to review the legality of executive detention decisions.
Habeas corpus is a longstanding vital part of our American tradition, and is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
As a group of retired judges wrote to Congress, habeas corpus “safeguards the most hallowed judicial role in our constitutional democracy – ensuring that no man is imprisoned unlawfully.”
Mr. President, this bill would fundamentally alter that historical equation. Faced with an executive branch that has detained hundreds of people without trial for years now, it would eliminate the right of habeas corpus.

However, Specter’s amendment failed 48-51. If “enemy combatants” don’t have habeas corpus then nobody does, because there’s no way for you to contest your classification as an “enemy combatant”. Welcome to 21st century America, where we do not have the legal protections enjoyed by 14th century English peasants.
Meanwhile, the torture bill passed the House 253-168. The lists of the 168 Representatives and the 253 America-hating supporters of tyranny can be found here.
UPDATE: Senate bill passes 65-34, which is a wider margin than I expected and underscores the lack of Democratic spine on this issue. The roll call is here.

6 thoughts on “They’ll have to change the Harvey Birdman song

  1. Justin

    Although I like the phrasing, I can’t resist the historical nitpicking. :-) In practice the Magna Carta applied only to the nobility and the church; not much peasants could do about it (and most likely they’d not know about any rights they might theoretically have, anyway).
    Also, Canada might be far enough away, if one takes care not to enter the US… I’ll be looking closely at job openings in the EU, though.
    I’m baffled that the Democrats don’t seem to be willing to filibuster this thing. Even Feinstein is strongly against it! And it’s not like this is a case where they can suck it up and then repeal the law after November – even if both houses of Congress turn D, there’s no way they can override a veto. And we already know that protecting the Presidential Right to Torture is one of the very few things Bush finds veto-worthy.
    My pipe dream is that eventually the slightly over 300 torture fans (including those in the Executive branch) can be sent over to the Netherlands for war crimes trials…
    P.S. Looking ahead, I’m thinking that McCain is no longer a viable candidate in ’08. If Republicans nominate someone with a pro-torture vote on their record, that damn well better be an auto-win for the Democrats (mmm, President Kucinich!). So I’m thinking it’s now Huckabee vs. Romney for the R nomination…

  2. Mason

    This whole mess makes me want to cry.
    And I would not object to living in another country (and some days look forward to it). The time zone thing in some countries would make it very hard to watch baseball, so I’ll have to weigh things accordingly when I find out what my opportunities are (it’s notoriously hard to get tenure-track jobs in continental Europe when not a native—in most cases of the specific country in question).
    I certainly liked the living environment of this country better twenty years ago than today, and that goes for the music on the radio as well. (Although at least now we have the technology to solve the music situation.)

  3. Arcane Gazebo

    Where do I apply for a job as one of those expatriates who sits around in Paris cafes all day? I’m pretty sure that’s the best solution, although I might have to take up cigarettes to complete the image.

  4. Justin

    I think only the native French need the cigarettes… :-)
    There must be physics jobs in France (and elsewhere in Europe); whatever job register you normally look at for postings should have them.
    Mason, hasn’t technology also solved the sports time zone problem? Tivo plus self-discipline (not reading sports sites until you’ve seen your recorded games of interest) should do the trick just fine… I know self-discipline shouldn’t be a problem for you, given your high wisdom score and Iron Will feat. Or is baseball a case where you get those massive circumstance penalties?? :-)

  5. Arcane Gazebo

    Well, I can easily think of places I could potentially look for a postdoc in France, Germany, or the Netherlands, but working in a physics lab is insufficiently stereotypical of an American expatriate in Europe. I think I probably would need to be a theorist to do it properly. :)

  6. Mason

    As Gazebo points out, I can do it properly. I did actually have a postdoc offer in Germany (from the Max Planck Institute for Complex Systems in Dresden) and I almost got an offer from NBI, but there was no way I was going to take either over Caltech.
    Dude, I can totally be the American expatriot who sits are cafes in Paris all day! I am so there! I don’t smoke either, but I can make up for it by gagging repeatedly in response to the smoking around me.
    In terms of baseball, you’ve got to be nuts if you think I can wait to read box scores or results. If the results are in, I waaaaaaants them. My preciousssssssss!
    Americans can certainly get postdocs in Europe. They’re much less anal for one’s nationality for those positions than for “permanent” ones.

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