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Laying the groundwork for tyranny

The Catholic blogger Mark Shea, who has for a long time been taking Catholic conservatives to task for supporting torture in the name of protecting us from the jihad, is worried about the signs [1]he sees in the concentration of power in the executive (which accelerated under the last Bush), and Obama’s attitude towards religious liberty. He cautions Catholics not to become hysterical, but says that all of us — not just Catholics — should be watchful and apprehensive. Excerpt:

[T]hey certainly have laid the groundwork for persecution and tyranny with the repeal of habeas corpus via royal fiat, the authorization of murder and indefinite detention on the word of the Dear Leader alone, and this latest move to trample religious liberty. It will take only the right combination of economic, social and political triggers to turn our de jure tyrannical police state into a de facto one. Who will be the designated scapegoats the Dear Leader will select in order to crystallize The People around him will depend on who the Dear Leader is, what precipitates the crisis whereby he euthanizes the last bits of liberty, and what goals he is trying to achieve in consolidating power and crushing opposition as he does so. But our Ruling Class (with our supine “What’s Snooki doing on Jersey Shore?” fat, dumb, and happy help) has come a long way in terms of softening the ground for that. It may well be Catholics who bear the brunt of it, but it may be some other minority instead.

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15 Comments To "Laying the groundwork for tyranny"

#1 Comment By Floridan On January 27, 2012 @ 10:05 am

Anyone who uses the term “Dear Leader” to refer to the President of the United States cannot be taken seriously.

#2 Comment By brians On January 27, 2012 @ 10:47 am

Floridan, I would’ve agreed before 2004.

#3 Comment By Niall On January 27, 2012 @ 11:08 am

The process is already advancing in the UK. Just yesterday the student union at one of our top universities voted to abolish free speech for pro-lifers, passing a motion which demands that any pro-life speaker addressing an open meeting be “balanced” by a pro-abortion speaker and an “independent” moderator:


This story confirms my belief that within 25-30 years, the UK will be prosecuting people for practising Christianity.

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 27, 2012 @ 11:33 am

Mark Shea’s heart is in the right place, but his analysis of where the danger lies shows a serious lack of rational consideration.

I share his concern about The State classifying an individual as a terrorist a priori access to the courts, and on that basis denying access to the courts to establish possible innocence. But, this isn’t President Obama’s idea: it was foisted on him by those stalwart enemies of Big Government, the Republican majority in congress. Also, the Supreme Court has shown some backbone in curtailing such excesses when they were merely claims of executive prerogative under the Bush administration.

I found myself in rare agreement with some rather aggressive “conservatives” on the death of Awlaki. There certainly is no authority for the federal government to execute or assassinate an American citizen without trial, BUT, I consider the death of Awlaki analogous to if an American citizen had been fighting at the Battle of the Bulge in Wehrmacht uniform, or even behind the lines subject to air bombardment. Nobody would have asked the armed forces or President Roosevelt to get permission from a court before shooting such a person. The debate needs to be an narrow grounds, not reaching for broad, expansive powers as pretext.

And Shea had been downright hysterical over the medical insurance coverage issue. Perhaps he wants to show his Catholic cred to his right-wing critics within the church. Large institutions employing large number of employees don’t get a free pass to impose on the employees’ choices in matters of health care. Our cultural ruling class may be dumb, fat and happy, but the ones who move billions of dollars and can command high-tech firepower are cold, ruthless, and determined. It would be a mistake to confuse the two.

#5 Comment By Mark Shea On January 27, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

“It was foisted on him”.

Rubbish. The striking thing about the NDAA was that it was a bipartisan effort. The GOP, to be sure, led the charge (with enthusiastic help from the Dems). But the only objections Obama had to the bill was that it was not draconian *enough*. When the last little restrictions on absolute power were scrubbed, he signed (issuing a transparently phone signing statement that said “I have a long face and that is a moral disinfectant”). Wake up. Stop defending your tribal elder and trying to pretend that he has not just assumed de jure tyrannical power. This was a complete bipartisan effort. Because the issue is no longer left vs right. It is our Ruling Class (an incestuous crony capitalist politico-economic class) vs. the rest of us. This sort of legislation is ideal for giving them the power to step on the populace should their pillaging of the economy really send the economy into a tailspin. Trusting the President whose Administration is in bed with Monsanto and Goldman-Sachs is folly. Trusting the GOP that led the charge to strip us of habeas corpus is also folly. Our Ruling Class no longer feels an obligation of loyalty to America or its people.

#6 Comment By cp On January 27, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

“This was a complete bipartisan effort.”

The solution is as close as the ballot box. The problem is that politicians feel these are popular positions, the moment they start losing elections because of them they’ll turn around.

#7 Comment By Mont D. Law On January 27, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

Sorry – but the Rove/Cheney expansion of Presidential power was cemented over the 8 years of the Bush Presidency. It is now a permanent part of the American political system and is likely to remain so and expand, if not forever, at least until all of us are dead.

#8 Comment By Mark Shea On January 27, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

Rove/Cheney didn’t sign this bill into law. Obama did. It’s fascinating to watch Obamaphile turn a blind eye to his naked abuse of power, just as it was fascinating to watch Bushies do the same for their guy. While the Ruling Class continues it bipartisan grab for power, their partisan suckers waste their time trying to pretend that one member of the Ruling Class is a hero while the other one is the source of all evil. Our Ruling Class love partisan suckers. They fight with each other and leave our Rulers alone.

#9 Comment By JonF On January 27, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

Also complicit in this unhealthy process: Congress has abdicated its own responsbilities, both by handing over cartes blanches to the executive, and by forcing frustrated presidents to act when Congress itself is behaving like a pack of squabbling grade school kids, unable to address the nation’s needs.

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 27, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

Mark Shea, what a militant Bolshevik you are! Obviously it is time to form conspiratorial cells to counter-act the pernicious grasp of the Okhrana — or is this just a Menshevik kaffee klatsch, hoping that if we talk enough, the masses will somehow spontaneously put an end to all the secret treaties and deprivations of liberty?

Well, all sardonic analogies aside, you made a flat statement denying the factual accuracy of a previous statement or two, singling out language I had used.

So I looked up the first news article I could find on the subject:


I won’t reproduce it all here, but this paragraph seems salient:

“The president, for example, said that he would never authorize the indefinite military detention of American citizens, because “doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.” He also said he would reject a “rigid across-the-board requirement” that suspects be tried in military courts rather than civilian courts.”

Perhaps, Mr. Shea, you are trying to carve out a Catholic left-of-left position, from which you can denounce President Obama without casting your lot with the Catholic right. After reading your responses in this discussion, I find that rather pathetic. Barack Hussein Obama ran for president of the United States, not King of the World and Supreme Arbiter of the Law. He doesn’t get to make all the calls.

In my seldom humble opinion, he should have done more to shake up the Democratic Party, rather than folding Obama For America into the Democratic National Committee. He should have broken up the banks, rather than listen to the likes of Summers and Geithner. But, he was being constantly pelted with accusations of socialism and weakness on national security. Plus, he said plainly we needed to be as careful getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan as we were careless going in. He’s done a reasonably good job with what he had to work with. Your militant accusations seem to lack substance.

#11 Comment By Mark Shea On January 28, 2012 @ 12:15 am

You assume I think Obama will be the Dear Leader who makes the final call to euthanize the US. I don’t know that. I merely note that the groundwork is being laid. Suspension of habeas on the unilateral word of the Dear Leader is now the de jure law of the land. It is not yet de facto. It may not be Obama. But I can certainly envision a Newt Gingrich doing it. Unless, of course, you believe Obama will always be President, Siarlys.


#12 Comment By Peterk On January 28, 2012 @ 9:52 am

“which accelerated under the last Bush” I would say it increased but not exactly accelerated at the rate it has during the last 3 years

#13 Comment By Franklin Evans On January 28, 2012 @ 10:47 am

Mark, I never thought I’d see myself writing this, but you have surpassed my own cynical paranoia (could be paranoid cynicism, take your pick).

The animus behind the take over, should it happen, will find its scapegoating focus on non-Christians first. Once we (yup, I’m a Pagan) are cleaned out, the intra-sectarian wars will begin, but not before. There will be plenty of time for Catholic (Lutheran, Methodist) planning, arming and strategizing.

Not sure why (well, except my non-stop free association processes), but I think you should read “Revolt in 2100” by Robert A. Heinlein. RAH had a way with plausibility.

#14 Comment By Opinion Pole On January 28, 2012 @ 11:45 am

“It was foisted on him”.

Yes, of course, he is president but somehow utterly incapable of something called a “veto”.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 28, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

Y’all are making this easy for me.

Mark, your last statement is valid and worthy of concern, but you have shifted your ground markedly. Before, you were deriding any notion that this was not all President Obama’s policy and preference. Now, without acknowledging (or refuting) that he raised objections, you point out that someone ELSE may make nefarious use of bad language written into law by CONGRESS. Yes, we should all be concerned about who is elected to succeed Obama in 2016, and try to repeal these legal provisions before then.

Pole… I can’t believe any mature adult citizen is ignorant of the fact that one of the most common forms of wheeling and dealing in Washington (and in most state capitals) is to insert a specific provision into broad general legislation, then dare the executive to veto the entire package, in order to reject the specific provision. Sometimes that results in a veto, sometimes the executive swallows the whole because the general package is essential, and he can’t get it any other way. All funding bills MUST originate in the House of Representatives. It’s in the Constitution. Remember?