THE BLOG
09/29/2006 06:54 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya

From the N.Y. Times of 9/29: The legislation broadens the definition of enemy combatants beyond the traditional definition used in wartime, to include non-citizens living legally in this country as well as those in foreign countries, and also anyone determined to be an enemy combatant under criteria defined by the president or secretary of defense.

Italics, of course, added. Why? Why go to all the bother of adding italics? Because I'm leaving it as a clue for Stabler and Benson, or Goren and Eames, or Benson and Hedges, or whomever the cops send to find us after we've been disappeared.

Like you, I dislike using "disappear" as a transitive verb. (I'm also not crazy about the phrase "grow the economy.") But the honorable men and women of Congress leave us no choice. They've empowered the most mendacious and destructive president in history to do exactly what the military juntas in Argentina and Brazil used to do. Note, too, that--as the italicized quote explains--he can do it, not just to Islamic evildoers, but to anythingdoers, anywhere in the country, at all.

Hence my vague disquiet. Because when our new book officially comes out (Yiddish With George and Laura; Little, Brown; pub date 10/10, but available now), and the White House discovers its not-uncritical view of the President and those around him, it is now within the regime's power to round us (self; the wife) up and throw us in jail, forever.

Literally. Period. No charges, no examination of the evidence, no counsel, no guarantee of trial, no habeas, no corpus, no shirt, no shoes, no due process. The Times, in an editorial, notes, "All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial."

Just like in--well, pick your poison. 1984. Fahrenheit 451. V for Vendetta. The Empire Strikes Back. Soviet Russia. Communist China. Pol Pot's New, Improved Cambodia. You-know-who's old, classic-style Nazi Germany. The Spanish Inquisition. (I know--you didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition. Nobody does.)

Now, granted, to imagine that the sprightly, amusing shtiklach ("bits"; routines) of our little story (and its accompanying smashing illustrations and cruel-but-fair Glossary) might be so powerful or influential or upsetting as to cause George W. Bush any discomfort at all, requires a combination of two percent hubris and ninety-eight percent insanity. And if--indulge me--it is brought to his attention, and he does read it and react negatively, the odds would seem to be against his actually being so moved as to throw us bodily into Guantanamo's hell--which, I just realized, is almost a Spanish anagram for "We have bat shit." Coincidence?

So, no, I'm being (I hope) either grandiose or paranoid or just disingenuously self-promoting, to fear that a little book of satire and parody could get me and mine in such superheated hot water. But that's not the point. The point isn't that they wouldn't do it, but that they now can do it if they so desire.

And there you have it: from "compassionate conservative" to the abolition of common law, and all in a mere six years. Take that, Mao.

Of course, Lindsey Graham on Thursday, after the vote, assured us that he'll sleep well, and that's what matters. Let no one mention that the worst people in the world "sleep well" after a grueling but productive day of doing the worst things in the world. By definition. (That's what enables them to be so bad. You need your rest. It's hard work.) The fact that something is acceptable to conscience doesn't make it right, but never mind. Senator Graham, his distinguished colleagues, and a few members of the loyal opposition are content with their action. Good for them.

Meanwhile, while they're sleeping the sleep of the righteous, those of us lying awake can reflect on the amusing fact that the Vietnam-era syndrome of destroying the village in order to save it has come home in a new and excitingly abstract form. Now we destroy the Constitution in order to save it.

Oy.