Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Bill of Rights Day

In 1794, President George Washington declared martial law and led federal troops into Pennsylvania to suppress and arrest farmers on charges of, among other things, "assisting and abetting in setting up a seditious pole" -- to be precise, a liberty pole.

In 1798, President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, resulting in the arrest of 25 Americans (mostly newspaper editors) for publishing material in opposition to the Federalist party's rule.

In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson had his former vice-president, Aaron Burr, detained by the military, then claimed "executive privilege" versus subpoena in Burr's trial for treason.

Broken from the beginning, it would seem. Government power has always been defined in action as "what we want -- and think we can get away with." And it probably always will be.

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