Laura Berg? She's a poison-pen nurse with the VA down in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We'll get back to her a little later.
So, it turns out in an eerie coincidence, the first father-son team to inhabit the office of the presidency also had some of their own difficulties with those annoyingly irksome American freedoms, especially that nasty one about Freedom of Speech.
A little historical background: On July 4, 1798 (a date I am sure which was not merely coincidental), John Adams set his quill to a set of four laws which became known collectively as the Alien and Sedition Acts.
These laws were:
1. The Alien Enemies Act authorized the president to imprison (or deport) any alien from an enemy nation (one the United States was fighting).
2. The Alien Friends Act authorized the president to deport any alien considered dangerous, in both war and peacetime.
3. The Naturalization Act extended the duration of residence required for aliens to become citizens, nearly tripling it from five years to 14.
4. The Sedition Act made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government or its officials.
Well. Some of that certainly sounds oddly familiar, doesn't it?
The Acts were hardly used during their liftetime -- they expired in 1800 -- and that's really unfortunate since the Supreme Court never got a chance to rule on them. SCOTUS decisions over the years which mention the Acts assume their unconstitutionality, but that's no guarantee that those "activist-judges" decisions will remain stare decisis. Remember, kids, like we keep getting beaten into our thick skulls, it's a Post-Nine-Eleven World.
Okay, fast-forward to today's case in point: Laura Berg, an employee of the US Veterans Administration -- a nurse, in fact -- in New Mexico, who had the fucking nerve, the pure unmitigated gall, to write a letter to the editor of a small weekly newspaper, a letter that was critical of the Bush Maladminstration. Excerpt:
We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit. Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.Yeah, I know, what a subversive. But it gets worse.
Storm troopers from the VA Gestapo (whatever they call their Internal Affairs Division over there) showed up at her desk, impounded her computer and accused her of "sedition". Jesus, sedition? Who even talks like that any more? And maybe somebody ought to set up a fund to buy a goddamn dictionary for these assholes, so they can see the fucking difference between "forcefully" and "forcibly".
Anyway, after an "investigation" they decided that she hadn't used her work computer in this seditiously nefarious letter-writing conspiracy. Never mind that there was no indicatory evidence, no probable cause, not even a whisper of an innuendo of a hint that she had used her work computer to write that scurrilous and un-American attack letter. And all that stupid and useless "due process" crap? Forget about it -- that's just crazy talk, pre-9/11 thinking.
What we have here is a particularly dirty campaign of intimidation, harrassment and suppression of free speech. Bottom line, that's exactly what this amounts to. And I don't give a rat's ass if the VA Gestapo was acting on direct orders from Big Dick Crashcart, Karl You-Have-Relatives-in-the-Old-Country Rove, even His Royal Highass himself, or if they just took it on themselves -- it really doesn't matter, because the BFEE has done and continues to do everthing it possibly can to create an artificial climate of fear in this country -- so even if they didn't actually order this hit, they are responsible for creating the bureaucratic hot-house atmosphere where this kind of thinking grows, thrives and prevails.
The more cases like Laura Berg's we hear about, the less likely people are to speak out. That's the intent, anyway. Some of us are too stupid, too reckless, or too American to take the hints and STFU.
So let's go back to the Alien and Sedition Acts. That last one, Number 4, it's the Big Kahuna, and that's exactly the one that we have to worry about the most. Every one of us out here in Left Blogistan is potentially at risk of violating that one. We're fortunate that the act expired with the end of Adams' term -- otherwise the BFEE would not be above dusting it off, dressing it up and trotting it out, to apply it wholesale to those of us who are acting forcefully to remove an administration filled with vicious deceit.
BTW, I am happy to report that the ACLU (of which I am proud to be a card-carrying member) has taken up Berg's case and is demanding an apology from the-appropriately-named Mel Hooker, the VA human resources chief. We'll have to see how this one works out.
And in the meantime, let's keep a weather eye out for the resurrection of the Alien and Sedition Acts. It'll come as part of the Orwellian-named Patriot Act -- watch for it.