Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Democracy Imperiled

This Fourth of July of 2007 brings us to the crossroads of a Constitutional challenge that has been coming for the last six years. The president's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence has brought us to the point where we have become a nation ruled by men who regard themselves above and beyond the law. If we are to once again return to a nation of laws, Democrats and the few Republicans still not under the neocons' control must re-assert our Constitutional checks and balances. The politicians in Washington swore to protect and defend the Constituton when they took office. The time has now arrived for them to honor their oaths.
- Dave Dubya

Eternal Vigilance

As a patriotic American citizen living in these strange and terrible times under the tyranny of King George, I am deeply distressed by witnessing our democracy imperiled as never before. I wonder how many people in this once free and prospering nation have considered the questions we now face. What has happened to our “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”? What’s happening to our economy, our standard of living, and our jobs? What has this surveillance state constructed by an authoritarian regime done to our Constitutional rights?

What does the world think of this government dictating its will upon sovereign nations? What is the international perception of our military and economic coercion of less powerful states? Why are we stuck in a hopeless quagmire of blundering imperialism in Iraq? How in God’s creation are Americans’ safety, interests, and honor advanced in a disastrous war of choice? How will the yet unimagined true cost of the war be paid? Who will pay the final price of unintended consequences? Who has profited economically and politically from this misadventure? Who suffers because of it?

Let’s begin addressing these matters by going back to 1961. How many of our fellow countrymen are aware of Eisenhower’s warning in his farewell address?

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. “

This observation needs to be the starting point for American citizens to begin to develop an understanding of the crisis threatening our democracy. Where is our “alert and knowledgeable citizenry”? Where are the voices for peaceful methods and liberty, and how can they be heard amidst the constant bellowing roar of the Military-Industrial Complex?

The gentile wisdom of Bill Moyers is out there, but known only to the very few who have had the benefit of catching him on PBS. His clear, thoughtful, and compassionate perspective is just not suited to the confrontational style of the “he said, she said” and “fair and balanced” format of the political talk shows. The vital issues we need to understand have been reduced to sound bites shouted back and forth.

How well is the American public informed by its massive media conglomerates? We need to ask why the corporate media still allows the discredited, war-profiteering Dick Cheney to continue to spew his lies into the public’s living rooms. Does anyone still believe that this draft dodging chicken hawk has any qualifications to lecture us on his immoral and illegitimate war? Mr. Military-Industrial Complex himself has been allowed to steer our defense industry into an offense on humanity. Yet, every lie he repeats is broadcast again and again, as if anything this man says could be credible.

One would think that airing lies of the radical Right without question, examination, or qualification is a clear example of right-wing bias in the corporate media.

We need to demand accountability from the media for its use of the publicly owned broadcast spectrum. They owe the taxpayers a debt, to provide accurate information for their use of our airwaves. Truth has become a casualty of the media’s pressure on their news divisions to serve as just another profit generating operation. News programming used to be a function of the broadcasters’ sense of duty and public service. Now the corporate consolidation of media has reduced every aspect of broadcasting to a simple service of the bottom line, where informative and investigative content has given way to infotainment and pontificating pundits.

Journalism has become too expensive and unprofitable. It has been sidelined to make room for the lowest common denominators of sensationalized gossip and simple parroting of the official line.

We must always bear in mind what Thomas Jefferson wrote, regarding how to keep our democracy. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government."

As long as the Republican Ministry of Disinformation’s Fox News Channel is allowed to maintain its illusion of a news organization, we are failing the founding fathers’ test of democracy. Right-wing propaganda is not news. And we know that Fox is not the only brand of corporate media guilty of transmitting unfiltered White House deceptions.

During the frantic run up to the invasion of Iraq, the clamor for war was unrelenting from almost every news source. The New York Times parroted the administration’s falsehoods without question. CBS, ABC, NBC, and CNN all fell in line behind the official assertions that urged us to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 and never attacked or threatened us. Phil Donohue was the one lone voice on MSNBC that questioned the rush to war. His show was duly terminated. And it was not due to low ratings.

The “Compassionate Conservative”

We need to ask why the most secretive, authoritarian and dishonest White House in history would continue demanding more unchecked power. We need to examine their ulterior motives and their secretive political machinations. We need to ask the members of congress why they were so willing to surrender their constitutional obligations and allow the unelected regime to pursue a state of permanent war.

A shrinking few will bleat out the floating and flexible line of the current White House justification. Or they will say that they were misinformed or deceived into voting for Bush’s war. I’m not buying it. Anyone who made an effort to ask questions and examine the war mongers’ assertions would have discovered the network of lies and misinformation being dumped on a frightened and angry post 9 -11 America.

Anyone with a sense of curiosity and an interest in our national well-being will discover the fruits of the neo-con rulers. It is not security, but a culture of fear and paranoia, with our values demolished by their flagrant disregard of the presumption of innocence, the Bill of Rights, and the Geneva Convention.

The public was baited into voting for the “compassionate conservative”. However, after the election was decided by conservative judges by way of an antiquated electoral college, these “compassionate conservatives” turned out to be imperialist authoritarians, who made it their policy to torture detainees. The fact that the majority of detainees were innocent mattered little.

Can we call this a free country anymore when a citizen’s phone can be tapped without a court order? This is an administration that repeatedly demonstrates its total lack of compassion and its utter disregard of the rule of law.

We need to demand real accountability from an administration that loves using the word, when denouncing others, yet shuns and ignores its meaning when applied to their misbehavior.

We need to demand the repeal of laws that suppress freedom and democracy. What can only be called police state methods were inserted into an ill-considered law ironically named the USA Patriot Act. Is a person living in freedom when his medical, tax, business, and personal records can be seized by police without a warrant? Even his library and bookstore use is wide open to the thought police. How free are we when authorities can break into your home and search your files and computer, and then not even have to tell you about it for months? What kind of country have we become when these violations of your privacy and dignity can be used against you even if are not involved in any criminal activity?

What happens when you are targeted under this law and you complain or talk to a lawyer about it? By the simple act of speaking about it, you’ve just committed an offense for which you can be put in prison. And that violation of the gag rule may have been your only crime. Welcome to section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The FBI has already been implicated in around three thousand abuses of the law with improper or no authorization for National Security Letters. They were so eager to collect personal information, they seemed to “forget” going by the rules. What happens to you or me when we forget to obey the rules?

What kind of leaders would use a law they claimed would strengthen national security, for their own partisan political purposes? The kind of leaders we have in the White House, who would circumvent the Constitution with a stealth provision in the Patriot Act that allows them to bypass Senate confirmation of U.S. attorneys. Prosecutors who had earned outstanding performance evaluations were fired. The administration wanted to replace them with their own political hit men without that messy Constitutional check on their power. One of these U.S attorneys was fired for no reason other than to be replaced by an under-qualified lackey of Karl Rove.

Why were they fired? Their answer was, of course, poor job performance. We now see the obvious reasons. These attorneys were not fanatical loyalists to the administration. They didn’t engage in suppressing minority voter turnout in swing states through Karl Rove’s trumped up issue of “voter fraud”. If voter fraud really was their call to crusade, they would certainly have prosecuted their most famous poster girl, Ann Coulter, for her egregious polling place perfidies.
She falsified her voter registration and voted in the wrong precinct.

The attorneys would not serve as Justice Department Brown Shirts for the White House, by allowing themselves to be used to attack and disenfranchise political opponents of the radical Right. In fact, some had the audacious independence to prosecute corrupt Republicans. This was in a context of a 7:1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans being investigated.

Imagine that. Given that the party in complete power must invariably be more corrupted, this surely amounts to the politicization of justice. Police power wielded by one ruling party and employed to attack and eliminate political opposition is an absolute hallmark of a police state.

Who had them fired? Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was first indicated as the axe man. He said he had nothing to do with it, and besides, he would “never fire someone for political reasons.” This was revealed to be an outright lie. Under sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee his former aid told members that Gonzales received memos and went to at least one meeting concerning the fired U.S. attorneys. Then the story shifted to blaming former White House counsel Harriet Miers. Finally, further revelations indicated that good old Karl Rove himself had his dirty hands in it from the beginning.

Care to answer a few questions for the record, Mr. Rove? I didn’t think so.

If this law weren’t enough to insult the Founding Fathers, the Radical Right elements of our government went on to topple the pillar of our justice system. Late on a Friday night just before the 2006 election, the Military Commissions Act was rushed through Congress. This is the first time a president has dismantled the writ of Habeas Corpus since the Civil War. The Constitution provides for such a thing during rebellion or invasion. Never mind that we are not in a rebellion or invasion.

Bush just wanted to have the power to incarcerate and torture people he deemed “enemy combatants”. Why should the Decider be bothered to show evidence against anyone he wants to call his enemies? Why should his enemies be allowed to see any justification for their detention and abuse? He did say, after all, “Things would be a lot easier if this was a dictatorship, so long as I’m the dictator.”

We must insist the Patriot Act be amended and the Military Commissions Act be abolished. Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights must be restored. The House and Senate have reasserted their own power by holding hearings on Gonzales’ Justice Department Coup and reclaiming their oversight on the appointments of federal prosecutors. This small step in the right direction is only a beginning towards recovering checks and balances lost in the past six yeas. Unfortunately, the healing will take much more time than it took for the injuries to be inflicted.

Real Liberals, Real Conservatives and the “F” Word

We need to increase our awareness of the corporatocracy and its predisposition towards militarism and fascism. Democracy is not part of the Military-Industrial Complex agenda.

We need to view George Bush as the dancing puppet whose strings are pulled by the malevolent and conniving Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Bush presents the perfect image of the glad handing, back slapping persona of a back stabbing Big Brother. They are the fascist bullies running the show. Their Big Lie is the outrageous claim that they are spreading peace, freedom, and democracy. Their operations, methods, and goals all display the ugly characteristics of fascism. If you think I use the term loosely, here’s my American Heritage Dictionary’s definition:

Fascism n. A philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism.

They show zero tolerance for compromise, compassion or dissent. They spy on peace activists and anti-war groups as if they were the enemy. They treacherously, if not treasonously, exposed the identity of a covert CIA agent working in counter proliferation. They destroyed the career of an officer whose job was to protect us from weapons of mass destruction. And they did this to punish the guy who exposed their lie about weapons of mass destruction that they used to lead us into war.

Their values are loyalty and obedience. Their loyalty and obedience is to the corporate Military-Industrial Complex. They have only contempt and disregard for democratic institutions and ideals. When someone raises Constitutional objections to their activities, they are accused of siding with terrorists. Their ambitions have clearly been to seize absolute power for themselves and outrageous profits for their supporters. Their corporate contributors are allowed to write legislation favorable to their business interests, and contrary to the concerns of the vast majority of taxpayers, who always endure the negative consequences. The poor are multiplying and the middle class is shrinking. Guess who’s getting richer?

Just keep your eye on the funny little guy in the White House who babbles like an idiot and everything will be OK. After all, since he is so resolute and determined, he must therefore be right. Americans have been blinded to the obvious.

This country has been commandeered by the radical Right, and has been dragged so far down the road to fascism, we need leftists by the multitudes to just begin to restore a little balance to the equation. Or would that be progressives, if that's what sounds more politically correct? Whatever it is called, liberalism is the antidote to what is poisoning our democracy. Adding a little authentic compassionate conservatism would help, too. I’m sure there are conservatives who want to preserve our Constitutional freedoms. We need to understand that we are on the same side.

Look at what has happened to the word “liberal” in our culture. We have been subjected to the vast right-wing propaganda machinery to such a degree that Americans have been literally brainwashed into the radical Right’s definition of liberalism. Pop quiz: Who’s soft on crime and weak on national security? See what I mean?

We are told that “Real Americans” are conservative and only conservatives have the politically correct corresponding set of “values”. The propagandists are continually labeling critics of the radical Right’s warmongering and destruction of civil liberties, as people “emboldening the enemy”, and “validating Al-Qaeda’s agenda”. Those who dare challenge the radical Right have their patriotism and judgment questioned constantly.

It's a sad and frightening reality that we need Democrats in control of the senate, house, and White House just to steer the country closer to the center. It has now come to where the Republicans represent the radical Right, and Democrats are more or less the moderate Right. Just look at all the corporate money and influence in both parties. There is no liberal party that is even close to power.

If we had a truly liberal influence in our government, we would all have access to health care. We would have more fairly regulated corporate power, and better jobs. We would have sound public education and a better informed public. We would once again have a balanced budget, privacy, and free speech. We would have sane, reality based environmental policy. We would have more democracy, an intact Bill Of Rights, and the respect of others. We would not have public policy written by corporate lobbyists.

Liberalism at the national level is dead, only its ghost remains. The spirit of America's better days is now conjured up and contorted by the radical Right to scare people with horrifying images of flag-burning homos who want to take away your guns and your right to choose a doctor. Stoned, satanic perverts will teach evolution to our children. Commie hippie junkies will appease terrorists and let them take over Wal-Mart. They even want to tax the rich, for God's sake!

This is when the Rush O’Really types will cast their shrill accusations of the “far Left” instigating class warfare. Just pay no attention to the massive redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class into the wallets of the super rich. Class warfare exists, all right. The winners and losers are more apparent every day. Wall Street celebrates while Main Street crumbles into decay.

Remember it was liberalism that brought real benefits to the people, including the gains in civil rights, collective bargaining, pensions, and the elevation of the middle class. The latter made possible largely through the G.I. Bill.

And liberal is not the only word that has been manipulated and redefined by the radical Right Wingers. Even conservatives are asking what has happened to conservatism. Authoritarianism, corporatism, nationalism, and militarism have co-opted and smothered the life out of conservatism. The gang of corporatists in power has betrayed the conservatives they purport to represent. Conservative ideals of fiscal accountability, honesty, and personal responsibility have been thrown out the window. Respect for the Constitution is nonexistent.

Whatever they say to the contrary, conservatism is not the primary agenda at the White House. It’s true that the Bush Administration appointed over one hundred and fifty graduates from Pat Robertson’s law school into federal positions. It is also true they diverted our tax dollars into select “faith based” initiatives. Apart from this pandering to the fundamentalists’ demand for theocracy, little conservatism is displayed. Goldwater-style conservatism, as well as liberalism, has been left in the swirling dust of history.

The powerful elite exploit the differences between the Left and Right to the point of distraction. They cleverly manipulate the contested agendas between the military-industrial complex and the public interest into a liberal-conservative sideshow. Is conservatism really just about gay and minority bashing, and cultural xenophobia demanding we “kill ‘em all an’ let God sort ‘em out?” Is liberalism really just about coddling criminals and appeasing enemies? Just turn on your TV or radio and hear all the clowns performing in this circus of distraction.

We the People

Democracy must have at its core the element of populism. Red state and blue state divisions are minimal when contrasted with the common needs we all share. Everyone calling themselves liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat needs a job they can live on. We all want health care and safe streets. We all want to protect our children and see them prosper. We want to breathe fresh air and drink clean water. We all want to have opportunity, freedom and justice. A truly populist party that listens and responds to the public’s needs is what stable democracy requires. Democracy’s very essence must include a voice that advocates for the people. We desperately need representation for the entire population. We need a Constitutionalist Party with real influence. Remember, it’s about “We the People”.

Problem is, the professional and working classes do not have the cash needed to stuff the pockets of politicians. Yet, astoundingly, the funneling of money into parties and politicians’ election campaigns has been sanctioned as free speech. How naïve it is, for the rest of us to see this as corruption. Justly or unjustly, that’s the Supreme Court’s decree. How can “Free Speech” be that which only the rich and powerful can afford? We cannot have clean elections wrapped in dirty money. Public financing is the only fair option for funding political campaigns for public office.

Which political party puts the public interest ahead of the big-money agenda? Would that be the Republican, or the Democratic Party? For too long, neither party overly concerned themselves with the common good. Imagine the convergence of the disaffected and unrepresented millions of citizens into a real movement or party. Imagine a major political apparatus devoted to issues of the public’s interest; as opposed to the present corporatist government of the big money, by the big money, and for the big money.

Imagine, instead of a winner-take-all power structure, we actually allow a system of proportional representation into our government. Other civilized nations have shown that it is possible. If independent Green, Libertarian, or Socialist parties receive five, ten, and fifteen percent of the votes respectively, and then are allowed those percentages of seats in government, wouldn’t that produce a significant advance for democracy? Where does it say we are allowed to have only two parties? Why should the two corporate controlled parties dictate who is allowed to participate in the political debates? The two parties’ stranglehold on our government must be released.

I’m no doctor, but I would suggest the cancerous corporatist affliction that is crippling our country needs urgent care. We need a healthy, therapeutic application of socialism. What's wrong with having a little more democratic socialism, like in Canada or Scandinavia? What’s wrong with the socialistic idea of health care for all children? Casey Aden-Wansbury, the Director of Communications at the Children’s Defense Fund, tells us nine days’ funding for the Defense Department and three months worth of tax cuts to the richest one per cent would extend health care coverage to all our children and pregnant women. Yet socialism is such a scary word in America.

The people of the USA are led to believe by their corporatist masters, in both government and media, that socialism IS communism. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is the perfect illustration. There was Wolf Blitzer on CNN, with a picture of Chavez on the screen along with the ominous words, “Communist Threat?” Anyone getting their information from watching CNN, NBC, CBS, and last but not least, the Fox Noise Channel will be led to believe that Chavez is a communist dictator, rather than a democratically elected president. He is a socialist. He just happens to be hated by the Bush Administration, so the propaganda is applied. Could it be because their oil is not pouring profits into the Bush Cartel’s pockets? Maybe that is the primary factor in our relationship with Venezuela.

Thank you, subservient corporate media. You do know your place.

Communism is characterized by centralized government control and ownership of industry, agriculture, and related production and distribution. Communism is to the radical left as fascism is to the radical right. Both are totalitarian dictatorships by a small ruling class. The government apparatus is a tool for the powerful elite to overrule the wishes and needs of the masses.

Democratic socialism is the safer and saner middle ground. Socialism is about taxpayer supported government services like fire and police departments, education and public sanitation. Socialism is about taxpayers and workers sharing both political power and the means of producing and distributing goods.

What’s the problem with this system? For one thing, it doesn’t foster the greed and corruption exemplified by Bushco’s crony capitalism of Halliburton and other taxpayer gouging, politically connected “contractors”. Their dream world of total privatization is turning out to be less efficient and more expensive than the public service it is replacing. If that weren’t enough, privatization always means accountability to the taxpayers is the first thing to go. But, their corporate benefactors and contributors are profiting immensely. Regulated capitalism is healthiest for all concerned.

With little more than a casual observation of the corporatocracy, we can discover the operating principle of our present national and global economic system. Private profit is to be gained at public expense. Thus Big Business dictates to our government the international trade agreements designed to maximize their profits. The financial costs and personal miseries imposed upon the very workers who helped build these companies are of no concern. The corporations’ only interest is in serving their own bottom line. This has been disastrous to not only our workers, but to the poor laborers around the world as well.

Our middle class’s economic security is being driven into the ground by high interest credit-fueled consumerism. Soaring unchecked prices of gas, heating oil, health care, medicine and education are a severe strain on all but the wealthiest Americans. The reckless overspending and borrowing by the government only add to the pervasive sense of instability.

Bankruptcy laws written by the banking industry have had a crushing effect on the lives of people forced into poverty by uncovered medical expenses. Our government has been taken over by the Big Money boys. Pharmaceutical companies wrote the Medicare prescription law. Cheney, Big Oil, Enron and their ilk have secretly written the nation’s energy laws. Growing increasingly authoritarian, our government has become the mechanism for the militarization and social control necessary to facilitate the agenda of corporate power.

Because of the likes of Halliburton, Blackwater and its mercenaries, and other war-profiteering companies, every military mission is now an opportunity for obscene profits at the public's expense. Bush and his wars have certainly provided record profits for Big Oil, that poor struggling business that needs all those tax breaks and subsidies.

Read 1984. Their methods will become clear.

Power is for power's sake. A permanent state war is maintained for binding patriotism, loyalty, fear and obedience together for the purposes of the police state. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

Predatory capitalism supported by an amoral nexus of politicians and lobbyists must be examined and brought under control. The true nature of the Military-Industrial Complex's proto-fascist corporatocracy must be revealed. We must speak the truth, expose their lies, and point out the evil ideology of their rule of profit and power. And we must always bring to light the inevitable death and destruction inflicted upon the innocent. We need to remind the nation of their cruel exploitation of the helpless and their theft of the public coffers. This is the mission of freedom-loving Americans.

Radical Change

American Democracy has already suffered what could well prove to be its fatal wounds. The 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were hijacked in Florida and Ohio respectively by Republican partisan manipulation of voter rolls and vote tabulation.

Unless we insist that future elections are to be decided by a verifiable and independent vote count, we will see the nightmare of right-wing election tampering continue to go unchallenged.

Our democracy is besieged by a Big Oil White House and a Big Money Congress. These two branches of government are filling the judiciary and Justice Department with lawyers rewarded for their loyalty, instead of their competence. We need radical change, just to pull closer to a more moderate political center.

That radical change is more democracy. Not the kind of democracy under the bought and paid for Democratic and Republican parties, but democracy dedicated to protecting our personal freedoms, and a healthy Bill of Rights. Democracy is needed to provide for the common welfare and promote economic fairness for all citizens.

It will not be easy to bring fair representation to citizens, with all the corporate machinery grinding the gears of government. A good place to begin the process is to remove the tentacles of corporate power from our government of the people. Thomas Jefferson believed that a corporation has no place in the government of men, and that men had a right to commerce without monopolies.

What happened to all that? A corporation is not a person, therefore not entitled to participate in government, right? How can corporations claim to be persons? Credit must be given to Thom Hartmann for giving this important matter its due attention. He is the author of Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights. He tells the fascinating story about how corporate personhood came to being.

Something interesting happened from 1865 to 1870. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution were ratified by three quarters of the states. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The Fifteenth Amendment allowed the former slaves to vote. The Fourteenth Amendment gave the former slaves access to legal due process. That is, “equal protection of the laws”.

Specifically, the Fourteenth Amendment says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Up to this point corporations were not allowed to influence the vote or elections. They were not legally persons. The most powerful corporations of the time were the railroads. They began to argue that they were discriminated against as “artificial persons” when they were subjected to the various taxes and laws of the different states and localities their tracks crossed. Their argument then went on to demand they be allowed personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment. If former slaves could be citizens, why couldn’t railroad companies be citizens? Their case was rebuffed several times up to the year 1886.

This is when the Supreme Court ruled on the obscure taxation case of Santa Clara County vs. The Union Pacific Railroad. It became the turning point for corporate personhood. Although the court did not rule on the Constitutional issues of the case, the court Recorder had inserted something crucial into his personal commentary of the case.

J. C. Bancroft Davis wrote that the Chief Justice had said all the Justices had agreed that corporations are persons. Chief Justice Waite specifically disavowed this later in writing. Davis happened to be a former president of a small railroad, and was thus the man to endow corporations with all the rights of living person. Now, along with more power than anyone in America could obtain, corporations would have all the rights and none of the responsibilities and limitations of an individual.

So it came to be that corporations claimed First Amendment protections and bought Congress and lobbied the FCC to gain control of the media. They could print or broadcast anything in their interests, true or untrue, and call it news and then claim that is protected free speech. Retractions of falsehoods or granting equal time to opposing positions are no longer required.

Corporations could now claim Fourth Amendment search and seizure protections against EPA and OSHA inspections without their consent. They can claim Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination when they get caught committing crimes. Corporations like Wal-Mart now have the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, so they challenge local governments or states that try to pass laws to protect local small businesses.

And all this is constructed on a lie. This lie and all the current lies used to mislead us into war have become the foundation that allows the present administration to continue its lying like it is business as usual. The culture of the Military-Industrial Complex is enmeshed in intrigue and dishonesty. The corruption of power and the power of corruption are fortified by so much deception, that our country can no longer honestly claim that we are the “good guys” in the international arena.

Liberty’s price of eternal vigilance has fallen into an apathetic deficit. We cannot permit ourselves to become too impoverished of consciousness and conscience to pay attention.

Truth seeking and soul searching may not be America’s leading pastimes, but never before have they been so vital in reclaiming our country’s dignity and integrity. Our nation must atone for the damage and carnage these lies have wrought. We need to reject and counter the corporatist attitude that implies Americans don’t deserve, and can’t handle the truth.

On the Brink

There may be those who would call me the hysterical alarmist. These remarks may still be thought of as nothing more than a lunatic fringe voice in the wilderness, although certainly less so than just a few years ago. They may also suggest to me that the Democratic majorities in congress prove that our system works. They may say that checks and balances are restored. That may be somewhat true. I would then point out that when we were being infected with war fever in 2002, the Senate was controlled by Democrats.

We are, and always will be, on the brink of totalitarianism as long as we overreact and panic when we are attacked by a gang of religious nuts. We are told by belligerent neo-cons that war is the solution to a problem best addressed by methods used against organized crime. We’ve seen how catastrophic and bloody their response has been. The neo-con strategy has created more enemies than we had before all this began. The insanity of attacking sovereign nations must be replaced by criminal investigation, intelligence, and careful use of special ops forces. This worked well against those involved in the first World Trade Center attack.

Maybe they don’t hate us for our freedom after all. Could our military-industrial government’s heavy handed actions in the Islamic world be triggering such resentment and anger? If we ever get around to ending our military occupation of Muslim lands, and if we ever cease our unconditional support for Israel, and help establish a Palestinian state, then the terrorist threat would subside.

Am I naïve to think that a wiser foreign policy, rather than permanent war, would be more likely to reduce terrorism? How about having a domestic energy policy focused on ending our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, instead of being directed only at maximizing profits? It seems like that would make our nation infinitely safer.

Military-Industrial dominance of our government’s policies is the problem. War is good for business. To the inhuman machinery of profit generation, the human equation is irrelevant. It matters not whether the war is immoral or illegitimate. Business is business. Is that what we want for our nation’s guiding principle? The war on terror is succeeding only as a war for profit. Militarism and terrorism only feed into each other.

When freedom and democracy are sacrificed in a war on terror, terrorism wins. When more people are killed by a war on terror than are killed by terrorists, terrorism wins. When more innocent lives than those of terrorists are taken by a war on terror, then terrorism wins. When people are more terrorized by a war on terror, than they are by actual terrorists, terrorism wins.

No wonder the terrorists wanted Bush re-elected in 2004. Remember when Bin-Laden popped up to say boo, just before the election? This evil, bloody, arrogant war of aggression has brought them their greatest victories, and brought us our greatest shame… and far too many wasted lives.

Still, terrorism is unlikely to disappear completely. But, Americans are slowly learning some valuable lessons. We are learning there is no justification for hysteria and snap judgments. We are learning that ill-considered and rushed legislation, without discussion or debate, should not be our response to crimes that are common to many countries. We are learning the hard way, that international cooperation is more desirable and more effective than unilateral military aggression. We are learning that heartless and cruel politicians will foster and exploit the public’s fears. We have learned they will frighten and divide a nation in order to accumulate more power for themselves.

We can still gain something positive from our country’s recent unhappy experience. All the madness and destruction that we’ve allowed our government to unleash has shocked many of us into paying more attention to what is going on. We are looking more at what is happening in both Washington DC and the world. Fewer Americans are drinking the neo-con’s Kool-Aid. We are becoming the more well-informed, alert, and knowledgeable citizenry that Jefferson and Eisenhower hoped we would be.

The answer to these questions and the solution to these issues can only be stronger democracy. Our journey towards reclaiming our democracy begins by following these paths.

We must first remove the dirty money from elections by instituting public financing of public elections. The media must fulfill its obligation to the citizens by fairly and freely broadcasting all candidates and their views. The process must be cleansed of political ads. Free speech is free speech. Propaganda is propaganda. Let the candidates speak for themselves. This can be done with a negligible, if any, additional tax burden to the public. Broadcasters’ licenses to public airwaves mandate their commitment to the public interest. As things stand now, the National Association of Broadcasters is the only guaranteed winner in our elections. That is why this issue is not covered on your TV news show. If you ever do hear mention of public financing, it will be dismissed with this corporate media blanket statement, “Americans don’t want public financing.”

Dirty partisan fingers need to be kept out of the election process. Fair elections can only be possible with fair ballot counting. How about bringing back real paper ballots, for a start?

We need to include more political parties into the common discourse that speak to the broad spectrum of the people’s interests, and then give them proportional representation in the governing process.

We must revoke the corporate seizure of personhood. A person must be human. How complicated can that be?

These steps can be taken gradually over a period of time. First and foremost must be the return of our government to the rule of law. Compelling evidence indicates numerous transgressions of several laws by the Bush Administration, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the Hatch Act, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, fraud under title 18, sec. 371, perjury, the Presidential Records Act, and gross violations of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of our Constitution. Investigations should be followed with impeachment or indictment of the guilty parties.

We still have a great country, founded on the wisdom of a profound framework for freedom. Our Constitution must be returned to its former level of respect and understanding. We have much to be thankful for, and much to be proud of, as a nation. We still hold the keys to liberty for this land we love. We must have our democracy back, or American Fascism will have a lock on us for good.

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