Wednesday, June 27, 2007

That Goddamn Piece of Paper

...Some More Historical Perspective

Maybe as the only Canadian member of the unruly mob, I shouldn't be the one writing this essay - but maybe my outsider's perspective will bring something new to the table.

You be the judge.

At some early time in my life, probably in public school, I became aware that Canada did not have anything equivalent to your Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights. Canada as a nation was defined by an act of BRITISH Parliament called the BNA (British North America) Act of 1867. Frankly, I have always found that to be outrageous, and somewhat shameful. Some of these concerns were addressed with the Canada Act of 1982, with its attendant Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While this 'repatriated' the Constitution in Canada, I still feel your documents are better than ours.

And I'll tell you why.

Prior to the founding of the United States, legal systems were based on the theory of Divine Right. The law was all about the government telling the people what they could and couldn't do. The U.S. Constitution set that premise on its ear, declaring that the will of the people should limit what government could and couldn't do. That is a radical and some may say sublime departure from what went before. OK, some would argue that the Magna Carta did that, but the premise of the Great Charter was still that power flowed from above, so it's not the same thing at all. Most importantly, in my view at least, the U.S. Constitution denied the leader the ability to claim authority based on a special connection to God. And hey, ya gotta love that strong opening, "We The People."

So what the heck went wrong? The government is now regularly doing exactly those things that the constitution supposedly prevents them from doing. President Bush loudly and proudly claims that his decisions ARE based on some special communication with God, and therefore beyond questioning. Shouldn't this trigger some corrective mechanism? Shouldn't something be happening to reverse this? Why isn't SOMEbody doing someTHING?

The situation brings to mind a quote from one of the most cynical men of the twentieth century, Joseph Stalin. "The Pope? How many divisions has he got?" One might well ask how many divisions the Constitution brings to the fight. And the answer, in theory, would be all the divisions in the country. The President, Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and every commissioned officer in the United States Armed Services must take an oath to 'uphold and defend' the Constitution against 'all enemies foreign and domestic.' That, one would imagine, should be more than enough, in theory. Sadly, as some sage said, "In theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice they are very different."

In practice, the honorable men that the Founders assumed would be taking all these oaths are not as abundant anymore as one would wish. I feel certain that George W. Bush, who is know to have referred to the Constitution as 'That Goddamn piece of paper', cannot be believed to have given serious consideration to his oath to defend and uphold same. Other oath-takers who have drop-kicked their Constitutional obligations into the nearest drainage ditch sit on the Supreme Court, fill seats in both houses of the legislature (and on both sides of the aisle in those houses), and fill key positions like, say, the Attorney General for example. I would say the majority of posts on this blog contain concrete demonstrations of how these men have dishonored themselves and their positions in all three branches of government.

Checks and balances my ass!

To their credit, the framers of The Constitution of The United States of America created a layered defense for liberty and the rights of man. One can readily see though how the assumptions that they made are no longer pertinent. The first assumption Is that the Chief Executive would recognize his position as a sworn servant of the people. Puh-leeese!! The Chimpster has shown no respect for any one of the 300,000,000 citizens of the country he is destroying.

The one thing the framers never considered when writing the Constitution was the idea that all three branches of government could ever become complicit in the same highjacking of democratic values. It rather erodes the layered defense that they provided with the model of checks and balances.

American fascism really became a fait accompli with the appointment of John Roberts as Chief Justice. The two then Republican-controlled branches of the government had effectively conspired to subvert the third. Worse, they did so in a manner that could not be corrected even when the Democrats regained the majority in the legislature. Worst, John Roberts being a young man this could have an impact extending into the next thirty or forty years. Any hope that democracy can be restored through the ballot box during the next election, even with an overwhelming Democratic majority ignores this depressing fact.

And oh, what abundant rewards the fascist bastards have already reaped from their subversion of the Justice System.

As I pointed out earlier, the administration, when they had Republican control of both houses, pushed legislation that is overtly unconstitutional (For example: the USA PATRIOT Act, Military Commissions Act, etc, or any of the dozens of signing statements through which pResident Bush intrudes on legislative authority.) - secure in the knowledge that the US Supreme Court could simply do what they did in the case of the MCA 'torture bill.' They didn't stick their necks out and rule to let the offending law stand. That would be a patent and obvious abuse of authority, and quite likely impeachable. Any law student, or for that matter any high school civics student could see through such an act. This would leave FIVE conservative justices vulnerable.

No, what they did was in its own way even more odious. They simply refused to even consider any test case. In such an instance, where the Supreme Court has not declared a law to be unconstitutional, said law remains in full force. Not a bad play, really - treason by sin of ommission.

Similarly, much Republican wrongdoing has been overlooked by the Gonzales Department of Justice. There are quite likely a number of Republican Congressmen, and at least a couple of Senators who would be in jail today if not for the inaction and outright OBSTRUCTION of justice represented most prominently by the Prosecutors' Purge affair. Again, treason by sin of ommission.

Anyone who doesn't see malice aforethought in this is simply not paying attention. Or more likely, they have been grotesquely misinformed by the mainstream media - which by the way was considered to be the last layer in the layered defense of democracy envisioned by Jefferson, Madison, et. al. Or more precisely, they saw a general population ("We The People") properly informed by a free press to be that last layer. And they most certainly saw the final remedy for the subversion of the Constitution and Justice System to be the same remedy they had taken against the intolerable actions of King George, and beautifully expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
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 to 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them 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.
If the people of the United States of America don't rise up against their oppressors, and soon, very soon, it may be too late - not only for your country, but for the rest of the world as well. It's time to ask yourself the question, "how many defenders does the Constitution have?"

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