3.28.2006

Are All of Our Mirrors Broken?


We are nearly become a nation against which we would have readily made war 60 years ago, or even 20 years ago. We are become mid-20th century Argentinians, Chileans, Germans, Japanese.

Some of us revere the leaders of the recent (2000) coup as gods. Some of us cower before their power, terrified by them more than by those they call terrorists. Some of us ignore/deny/minimize the miasmic reality, hanging our hopes for better days on a non-existent opposition party. Some of us run to other countries, thinking there may be neutral ground, hallucinating the Elysian fields perhaps. Some of us stand and resist and scream, but we only hear each other and, like true Americans, are unable to organize individual resistance into powerful movement - mostly because we can't find a TV show that models it.

Why? Are all of our mirrors broken? Are we truly incapable of seeing what a terrible monster of a nation we are? What is there left that gives us the right to think that the United States of America is "the greatest nation on earth"? We've been fed and have swallowed billions of tons of pure bullshit by our own propaganda factories since they began telling us "we won World War II". And even in the areas where we've succeeded in being "the greatest", we have done so in great part by pillaging the earth and its biosphere, embracing brutal dictatorships while overthrowing populist governments, and squeezing the poor to desperation and death . . . and we're proud of it.

Let some others speak here, too . . . how about some clips from "Is the Constitution Dead?" by RINF's Edwin Vieira:
All too often when I propose returning America's monetary and banking systems to constitutional principles, or revitalizing the Militia of the several States, I find myself assailed with the retort that the Constitution is dead; that attempts to apply its true principles its original intent –as a means of limiting the powers of contemporary public officials are futile; and that my exhortations to the contrary are irrelevant, impotent, and even innately, if innocuously, screwball in character. Although no man is likely to be taken for a prophet in his own country, one's being spurned in that role does not, by itself, prove his pronouncements erroneous. Especially when the argument against his prophetic gift is as self-evidently nonsensical as that "“the Constitution is dead".

Plainly, the Constitution is anything but "dead"” with respect to certain individuals' access to and employment of political power that affects the lives of every American every day. To the contrary: It is very much alive and active in regard to elections to Congress and the Presidency, to the enactment of statutes, to decisions of the Supreme Court (and hundreds of other tribunals), to the President'’s command of the Armed Forces of the United States, and so on. Every transaction in these domains transpires under color of the Constitution, with at least tacit appeal to its authority, and at least in semblance according to its procedures.

True enough, many things done procedurally in the name of the Constitution are substantively unconstitutional. But no one in or seeking office in the General Government or the States dares to admit that he is acting outside, with disregard, or in contradiction of the Constitution, that he intends to violate it, or even that he may be justified in doing so in any particular future circumstances. Even those public officials who flout it in practice nonetheless acknowledge the Constitution to be just what it says it is: "the supreme Law of the Land"” (Article VI, Clause 2), which everyone, themselves included, must follow. They invoke the Constitution as the source of their authority, and assert that their actions are fully consistent with it. That this may constitute self-deception, hypocrisy, deceit, or even perjury cannot falsify the Constitution's character as "the supreme Law", or deny the efficacy of the transmission and exercise of power pursuant to it.

That criminals violate a law does not negate it. So how is it that the powers the Constitution grants - –and all too many that it does not grant - are fully alive; whereas the limitations on power that the Constitution also prescribes, in language no less intelligible and forceful, are supposedly "dead"? Simply because many individuals filling public offices under color of the Constitution choose to assert the powers but to forget the limitations? On what theory of constitutional government can such a pattern of misbehavior be legitimate? On what theory of law can officials enforce the parts of a law that grant them powers, while refusing to obey the parts of the very same law that impose disabilities on them?

Of most practical concern, if "“the Constitution is dead"” with respect to its limitations on governmental power, then how can anything that public officials do be legally wrong? If public officials refuse to obey the Constitution as to its limitations - –and supposedly need not do so because it is to that extent "“dead" - –then how can Americans criticize, challenge, and condemn what they are doing? On what grounds can Americans chastise them for their misdeeds? If "the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, then no public official violates his "Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution" (Article VI, Clause 3) when he disregards those supposedly ineffective restraints. Similarly, if "the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, then it is "dead", too, as to the individual rights it guarantees, because these rights establish fundamental constraints on governmental power. Thus, no public official violates even Congressional statutes ostensibly protecting civil rights (e.g., Title 18, United States Code, sections 241 and 242) when he disregards those rights as nonexistent.

Moreover, if, on the basis of the excuse that "“the Constitution is dead"”, Americans supinely obey public officials whenever the latter transgress the Constitution, then by their acquiescence they themselves admit that any statute Congress enacts, any judicial decision, and any order of the President to the Armed Forces is "law" and even "supreme law"”, because there is nothing superior by which to judge it; thus, "law"” is just another name for raw power; and, therefore, those who succeed in seizing control of the machinery of government can do whatever they like.

If "the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, then public officials in the exercise of unbridled power need consult only their own wills, appetites, and vices for direction. They are accountable to no one but themselves. In the truest sense of the term, they are utterly lawless. And common Americans are impotent, imbecile, and impertinent to say anything within the law against them.

It is useless to invoke the electorate as the ultimate, or even a potential, "”check and balance"” on rogue public officials. For who is to check the electorate, if not the Constitution? The Constitution imposes constraints on voters, as well as officials:

[t]he very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials * * * . One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943).

If "“the Constitution is dead"” as to its limitations, though, then the voters, too, may do whatever they choose, and thus become a source of the problem, not its solution. As recent experience has repetitively proven, they may elect the worst possible miscreants to the highest public offices. And that such corrupt characters have been chosen "by the people"” will enable them to camouflage their crimes under the whitewash of "“democracy". (Which, no doubt, is why this buzzword has suddenly become so popular in political discourse.) Thus, voters unrestrained by the Constitution will simply provide further evidence for History's teaching that unbridled democracy leads straight to tyranny. When has it not?

On the other side, if "“the Constitution is dead", then to what authority can patriots appeal against the depredations of malign public officials and a corrupted electorate? Without the Constitution, patriots are mere dreamers or rebels whom the Establishment can condemn as crackpots or criminals.

In short, if common Americans concede that "the Constitution is dead"”, they will surrender the high ground, the initiative, and even their own best weapon, and put themselves at their enemies'’ mercy . . .

Without the Constitution, Americans must fall back on the "self-evident truths" of the Declaration of Independence, that

all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

But the Constitution is the product of, embodies, and depends upon these truths. If "the Constitution is dead", does not its cause of death extend to the Declaration as well? If the Constitution has proven unworkable perforce of its own internal incoherence, and its principles have thereby exposed themselves as fallacies, then are not the principles on which they rest, the "self-evident truths" of the Declaration, also tainted as no less erroneous?

If so, is the Declaration not also wrong in its assertion that "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce the [people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security? So, must We the People allow themselves to be "“reduce[d] * * * under absolute Despotism", and that "absolute Despotism"” then be suffered to continue in perpetuity, until it spontaneously collapses of its own imbecility and corruption, taking down all of society with it?

Any patriot must reject this conclusion out of hand, along with the premise on which it rests. What is "dead"” is not the Constitution, or constitutionalism, or the Declaration of Independence, because they embody ideas and ideals that cannot die. But they can find themselves bereft of defenders. All too many Americans no longer entertain these ideas or cling to these ideals, not because they believe them wrong and unattainable, but simply because they lack the gumption to stand up for the way of life the Founding Fathers bequeathed to them.

This, however, is not an unalterably fatal condition. Common Americans once possessed gumption, and they can again. After all, it does not require heroic self-sacrifice, for one does not sacrifice himself by fighting for what is his. It does not require extraordinary courage, for even a cornered rat will resist an attacker. It requires only enough energy and determination to overcome the political sloth that throws in the sponge because that is the least tiresome thing to do.

If Americans cannot muster that energy, then for all practical purposes their country is dead. And the fault for that fatality cannot be attributed to the Constitution.
In case your eyes glazed over, I'll summarize: the Constitution is not "dead", but it is the inaction of citizens that deprives the document of oxygen.

Blogger Steve Lendman writes in "War-Making 101 - A User's Manual", in part:
I've lived through seven decades and can remember the late 1930s before WW II began. In fact, I began my formal education in kindergarten within days of when Hitler sent his Wehrmacht across the Polish border in an act of illegal aggression and began that near six year horror. I was too young to understand it then, and I can barely remember that fateful "first Pearl Harbor" on December 7, 1941. Franklin Roosevelt wanted in on that fight and did all he could to goad the Japanese to attack us. He knew with enough prodding they would, and when it came, we knew about when and where it would happen. We were ready to mobilize and join the battle, we did it, and nothing's been the same since.

FDR at least took the country to war as the Constitution says we must. On December 11,1941 he asked the Congress to make that declaration against Japan and also Nazi Germany in response to Hitler's declaring it against us. It was the last time a US Congress would ever use the constitutional authority it alone is allowed in Article I, Section 8 of that sacred document. The Founding Fathers thought that authority so important they codified it. They believed that on what is the single most important issue a nation ever faces, that awesome power should never placed in the hands of a single person. They wanted only the Legislative Branch to have it and only exercise it after careful, deliberative debate. That Branch still has it if it so wishes, but for the last 65 years it decided in its infinite indifference to abrogate it's authority and allow the President to usurp it and use it at his pleasure and choice. We've seen the result - a mess without end. We've had war after war after endless war (including the ones fought by others we encouraged and financed plus all the CIA covert mischief and abuse) with no end in sight and in every instance since WW II against designated "enemies" that never threatened or attacked us or had any intention to. Doing that by direct intervention based on no provocation, as we have, is called illegal aggression, which is exactly the crime the Nazis were tried for at Nuremburg. In the words of the Tribunal: "To initiate a war of aggression....is not only an international crime, it is the supreme crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." The worst of those found guilty in that Tribunal were hanged. Think any of our leaders will ever meet the same fate as they should, of course? Fat chance, even though the worst of ours are as guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity as were the worst Nazis . . .

The point from my brief history lesson is to connect it to our own present situation. For the first time ever, we now have a president, at least the first one admitting it publicly, who also believes the Almighty speaks to him, tells him what to, and he's just following orders from that higher authority. I don't think he's kidding when he says God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. I wonder if that same God told him to steal from the poor and give to the rich. I also wonder what God he's referring to. It's not the one I was brought up to believe in and the principles I was taught to think are pretty sacred in the Ten Commandments, especially the core "golden rule" one.

NOW LET'S GO THROUGH THE STEPS/RULES

Rule No. 1- Develop a tradition of militarism over time. It takes many years of practice to hone skills and perfect them. The US has followed this practice and incredibly has been at war (real war with mass slaughter) internally and/or abroad every year without exception with one or more adversaries since its inception.

No other nation today is more addicted to war than the US. It seems like it's always been that way, and it has. Of course, you'd never know it from the sanitized history we're taught up to the highest levels in all our schools - even the best of them like the two esteemed universities I was lucky enough to attend. I later understood their mission was to program my mind, teach me acceptable doctrine to "make me a good citizen." It's part of the package called "The American Way." Fill their heads with mush and make 'em believe the sun is out when it's really dark and pouring rain. They did teach me how to learn though, and I've tried to use that skill ever since to discover and understand what they should have taught me but never did . . .

Rule No. 6 - First the rule and then the message from it. The rule is: when you've got 'em, use 'em. Of course, that means using whatever most destructive or high tech weapons you have, especially if the target country only has lesser ones. It also means: what's the point of having 'em if you can't or don't use 'em. The message then is: toxic radiation is good for you. That must be what they're selling because the US has now stated its intent to use industrial strength nuclear bombs in any future wars if it chooses to. Can they really sell this line of sheer madness? They're trying, and I don't hear anyone screaming about it yet.

Waging war by illegal aggression is bad enough, but doing it recklessly in another so-called "shock and awe" attack with so-called "bunker-buster mini-nukes" that aren't mini is reckless and insane. The rhetoric about them is false and deliberately deceptive. These bombs are industrial strength and can be made to any potency and likely would be from one third to two thirds as powerful as a Hiroshima bomb. They're designed to penetrate a designated target and explode underground for supposed protection. The DOD falsely claims this fantasy. They deceptively state that these weapons are safe to use because only the protected target is destroyed while the toxic radiation from the detonation is contained underground. Baloney. This is just another shameless lie. Some of it will be contained, but any bomb this powerful will release most of its toxic and lethal radiation into the atmosphere contaminating a vast area depending only on how many targets are struck, where they are, and by how many nuclear bombs. Let's be clear what will happen if this attack goes ahead as planned or any other like it they may have in mind. It will likely be Hiroshima and Nagasaki x you pick the multiple - anywhere from double to infinity. And the result will be many thousands of innocent people murdered, many more thousands poisoned by toxic, lethal radiation and a vast area irremediably contaminated for the next 4.5 billion years. Think it's worth it, never mind unjustified, egregious and a gross breach of international law.

Should this administration be insane enough to do this (and after the announcement of March 16 it looks more likely than ever), the entire Middle East may boil over, and the US will have descended even deeper into its hellish sinkhole of endless (and now full-scale) nuclear war, massive destruction and killing, and nation bankrupting levels of endless spending with no end in sight. Doesn't this crowd understand this? They must, but that doesn't deter the damn fools. They're often wrong but never in doubt. Haven't they ever heard the great lyrics to folk singer Pete Seeger's Vietnam era ode to the damn fool of that period - "Waste deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says push on." And don't they remember the memorable Stanley Kubrick 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, that even I saw back then, and I dislike movies. Kubrick portrayed a nuclear Doomsday Machine. The film's subtitle was "how to stop worrying and love the bomb." Anyone believing that then or now can only love great suffering and large-scale death and destruction instead of life. But you can bet these guys will convince a lot of people it's worth it - for what and whom. Them maybe, but not us . . .

Rule (or reality) No. 8 - The script is written and the plans are ready to go. Here's how it's likely to play out.

I've discussed this scenario before in another essay, but it deserves repeating here with some added embellishment to scare you even more. I began by suggesting we're being set up (as well as being given fair warning if we can read the tea leaves) for a planned major strike against us. I then went on to say.......You know the drill by now. A major attack happens on US soil, the Bush administration and complicit corporate media hype what happened, scare the public and get them mad enough to demand retribution. If they haven't yet attacked Iran, they blame this on them so they now have public and outside support to do it claiming secret intelligence they can't reveal and it's (nuclear) bombs away - and George Bush's approval rating skyrockets just like after 9/11, and the Republicans keep control of both houses of Congress in November. Karl Rove couldn't plan it any better.

And there's one more thing I didn't write before but will add here. Tommy Franks' assessment and vision will become reality, the Constitution will be suspended, martial law will be declared and we'll have crossed the Rubicon and passed from a republic (what's left of it) to tyranny just as it happened in ancient Rome and more recently in Weimar Germany. We're no different or safer than they were. It works the same in every country, and we should understand nothing is more fragile than our sacred freedom and liberty. It can easily be taken from us without our knowledge or with our compliance when we think it guarantees us security. The reputed old Chinese proverb and curse (likely derived from another source) said "May he (or you) live in interesting times." It didn't mean "let the good times roll and all is well in the world." Whether of Chinese origin or not, I'll settle for the curse and say it surely applies to today in this country like never before in our history . . .
Former Republican conservative Paul Craig Roberts asks, in "What's Become of Americans?" at Antiwar.com:
Imagine knocking on America's door and being told, "Americans don't live here any longer. They have gone away."

But isn't that what we are hearing, that Americans have gone away? . . .

Readers tell me that Americans don't live here any more. They ask what responsible American citizenry would put up with the trashing of the Bill of Rights and the separation of powers, with wars based on deception, and with pathological liars in control of their government? One reader recently wrote that he believes that "no element of the U.S. government has been left untainted" by the lies and manipulations that have driven away accountability. So-called leaders, he wrote, "talk a great story of American pride and patriotism," but in their hands patriotism is merely a device for "cynical manipulation and fraud." . . .

The Marines turned in a false report that the civilians were killed by an insurgent bomb. But the evidence of wanton carnage was too powerful. Pressed by Time's collection of evidence, U.S. military officials in Baghdad opened an investigation. Time reports that "according to military officials, the inquiry acknowledged that, contrary to the military's initial report, the 15 civilians killed on Nov. 19 died at the hands of the Marines, not the insurgents. The military announced last week that the matter has been handed over to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which will conduct a criminal investigation."

If this story is true, under Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush's leadership, proud and honorable U.S. Marines have degenerated into the Waffen SS. Those of us raised on John Wayne war movies find this very hard to take . . .

The neocons have yet to tell us the real reason for their assault on Iraq, which has so far produced 20,000 dead, maimed, and wounded U.S. soldiers, between 30,000 and 180,000 (and rising) Iraqi civilians, and demoralized U.S. Marines to the point that they commit atrocities on women and children.

Would real Americans accept these blows for the sake of an undeclared agenda? Perhaps it is true that Americans don't live here any longer.
My questions are "who are these Americans we're talking about" and "when did they live here?" Are we talking about the Americans who spent a couple of hundred years or more decimating the nations who were here long before Europeans arrived? Or maybe those who made millions in rum and slave-trading and built no small empire on the backs of slaves? Or those who fought each other in the war to decide whether wage-slavery or chain and whip-slavery would be our economic base? Or those who allowed our government to annex Central and South America for United Fruit, steal the Philippines from Spain and Hawaii from itself?

The grand and ugly dichotomy is that this nation "of, by, and for the people" refuses to take responsibility for itself. The people elect their own government, but when their government does what governments do, the people disown it. I still see "Don't blame me, I voted for McGovern" bumper stickers around.

People run for office now knowing with a certainty that if they win, most folks won't care much about what they're doing for at least two years. Let me repeat my favorite Emma Goldman paraphrase . . . "elections are the opium of the people." Even worse, given the 2000 and 2004 election scandals, it looks like that opium has been mashed into smack and cut with strychnine and ground glass.

As I write this, it seems that the only good news I can find is that Jill Carroll was finally freed by her loathsome kidnappers today.

It all seems so diminished by the notion that our country has also freed the Evil Demon "A-Bomb" and is semi-secretly leading other nations occupying this poor, embattled planet into nuclear proliferation (India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) and conflict (China).

What, us worry? The mirrors are broken. Go shopping.

.........................
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