January 4, 2004

Gore Vidal, Patriot. "Franklin understood the American people better than [Washington, Adams and Jefferson]. ... Franklin saw danger everywhere. ... Jefferson said that once a generation we must have another Constitutional Convention and revise all that isn't working. ... Jefferson was the only pure democrat among the founders, and he thought the only way his idea of democracy could be achieved would be to give the people a chance to change the laws. ...

"The USA PATRIOT Act is as despotic as anything Hitler came up with – even using much of the same language. ... [T]he language used by the Clinton people to frighten Americans into going after terrorists like Timothy McVeigh – how their rights were going to be suspended only for a brief time – was precisely the language used by Hitler after the Reichstag fire. ... I have read not only the first PATRIOT Act but also the second one, which has not yet been totally made public nor approved by Congress ... An American citizen can be fingered as a terrorist, and with what proof? No proof. ... You can then be locked up without access to a lawyer, and then tried by military tribunal and even executed. Or, in a brand-new wrinkle, you can be exiled, stripped of your citizenship and packed off to another place not even organized as a country ... The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades. And they would have hanged anybody who tried to get this through the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Hanged.

[So if George W. Bush or John Ashcroft had been around in the early days of the republic, they would have been indicted and then hanged by the Founders?]

"Bush and Ashcroft would have been considered so disreputable as to not belong in this country at all. ... They would not be called Americans – most Americans would not think of them as citizens.

[Do you not think of Bush and Ashcroft as Americans?]

"I think of them as an alien army. They have managed to take over everything, and quite in the open. We have a deranged president. We have despotism. We have no due process. ...

[Speaking of elections, is George W. Bush going to be re-elected next year?]

"No. At least if there is a fair election, an election that is not electronic. That would be dangerous. We don't want an election without a paper trail. ... Bush will probably win if the country is covered with these balloting machines. He can't lose. ... If we use old-fashioned paper ballots and have them counted in the precinct where they are cast, he will be swept from office."

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