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Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

The Rutherford Institute :: Suspending the Constitution: Police State Uses Crises to Expand Its Lockdown Powers | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on March 26, 2020

The America metamorphosing before our eyes is almost unrecognizable from the country I grew up in, and that’s not just tragic—it’s downright terrifying.

This is how freedom dies.

We erect our own prison walls, and as our rights dwindle away, we forge our own chains of servitude to the police state.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/suspending_the_constitution_police_state_uses_crises_to_expand_its_lockdown_powers

By John W. Whitehead

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

You can always count on the government to take advantage of a crisis, legitimate or manufactured.

This coronavirus pandemic is no exception.

Not only are the federal and state governments unraveling the constitutional fabric of the nation with lockdown mandates that are sending the economy into a tailspin and wreaking havoc with our liberties, but they are also rendering the citizenry fully dependent on the government for financial handouts, medical intervention, protection and sustenance.

Unless we find some way to rein in the government’s power grabs, the fall-out will be epic.

Everything I have warned about for years—government overreach, invasive surveillance, martial law, abuse of powers, militarized police, weaponized technology used to track and control the citizenry, and so on—has coalesced into this present moment.

The government’s shameless exploitation of past national emergencies for its own nefarious purposes pales in comparison to what is presently unfolding.

It’s downright Machiavellian.

Deploying the same strategy it used with 9/11 to acquire greater powers under the USA Patriot Act, the police state—a.k.a. the shadow government, a.k.a. the Deep State—has been anticipating this moment for years, quietly assembling a wish list of lockdown powers that could be trotted out and approved at a moment’s notice.

It should surprise no one, then, that the Trump Administration has asked Congress to allow it to suspend parts of the Constitution whenever it deems it necessary during this coronavirus pandemic and “other” emergencies.

It’s that “other” emergencies part that should particularly give you pause, if not spur you to immediate action (by action, I mean a loud and vocal, apolitical, nonpartisan outcry and sustained, apolitical, nonpartisan resistance).

In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been quietly trotting out and testing a long laundry list of terrifying powers that override the Constitution.

We’re talking about lockdown powers (at both the federal and state level): the ability to suspend the Constitution, indefinitely detain American citizens, bypass the courts, quarantine whole communities or segments of the population, override the First Amendment by outlawing religious gatherings and assemblies of more than a few people, shut down entire industries and manipulate the economy, muzzle dissidents, “stop and seize any plane, train or automobile to stymie the spread of contagious disease,” reshape financial markets, create a digital currency (and thus further restrict the use of cash), determine who should live or die…

You’re getting the picture now, right?

These are powers the police state would desperately like to make permanent.

Specifically, the DOJ wants to be able to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial. The DOJ also wants to be able to pause court proceedings and suspend the statute of limitations on criminal and civil cases.

Both signify a clear violation of every right espoused in the Constitution, including habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus, a fundamental tenet of English common law that guards against arbitrary and lawless state action, does not appear anywhere in the Bill of Rights. Its importance was such that it was enshrined in the Constitution itself. And it is of such magnitude that all other rights, including those in the Bill of Rights, are dependent upon it. Without habeas corpus, the significance of all other rights crumbles.

The right of habeas corpus was important to the Framers of the Constitution because they knew from personal experience what it was like to be labeled enemy combatants, imprisoned indefinitely and not given the opportunity to appear before a neutral judge. Believing that such arbitrary imprisonment is “in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instrument of tyranny,” the Founders were all the more determined to protect Americans from such government abuses.

Translated as “you should have the body,” habeas corpus is a legal action, or writ, by which those imprisoned unlawfully can seek relief from their imprisonment. Derived from English common law, habeas corpus first appeared in the Magna Carta of 1215 and is the oldest human right in the history of English-speaking civilization. The doctrine of habeas corpus stems from the requirement that a government must either charge a person or let him go free.

While serving as President, Thomas Jefferson addressed the essential necessity of habeas corpus. In his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801, Jefferson said, “I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough.” But, said Jefferson, our nation was “the world’s best hope” and, because of our strong commitment to democracy, “the strongest government on earth.” Jefferson said that the sum of this basic belief was found in the “freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.”

Throughout the twentieth century, the importance of the right of habeas corpus has repeatedly been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet 200-plus years after America’s founders risked their lives to secure their freedoms, we find ourselves right back where we started, with a government determined to strip us of every vestige of our freedoms.

The DOJ’s latest request to Congress is merely a signal that the police state is ready to step out of the shadows, with the current national emergency being a convenient cover for their dastardly deeds.

Bear in mind, however, that these powers the Trump Administration, acting on orders from the police state, are officially asking Congress to recognize and authorize barely scratch the surface of the far-reaching powers the government has already unilaterally claimed for itself.

Unofficially, the police state has been riding roughshod over the rule of law for years now without any pretense of being reined in or restricted in its power grabs by Congress, the courts or the citizenry.

As David C. Unger, observes in The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs:

“For seven decades we have been yielding our most basic liberties to a secretive, unaccountable emergency state – a vast but increasingly misdirected complex of national security institutions, reflexes, and beliefs that so define our present world that we forget that there was ever a different America. … Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have given way to permanent crisis management: to policing the planet and fighting preventative wars of ideological containment, usually on terrain chosen by, and favorable to, our enemies. Limited government and constitutional accountability have been shouldered aside by the kind of imperial presidency our constitutional system was explicitly designed to prevent.”

This rise of an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security is all happening according to schedule. Read the rest of this entry »

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Coronavirus vs. Constitution: What can government stop you from doing in a pandemic?

Posted by M. C. on March 13, 2020

Apparently pretty much anything it wants.

Precedents are set.

People are trained to obey…or else.

Laws do not go away. Income tax, social security, tax withholding are a few that come to mind.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article241106636.html

By Hayley Fowler

Public closures, a ban on gatherings, quarantine notices and orders for isolation have become increasingly common as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States.

Officials in Washington state and San Francisco are limiting the number of people allowed to attend public gatherings. The governor of California joined them on Thursday in urging the cancellation of all events with more than 250 people in attendance.

The governor of Kentucky, a Bible belt state, has asked churches and other religious institutions to temporarily cancel services.

But if it seems these actions are infringing on individual freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, think again.

“You don’t have a right to assemble against the backdrop of known public health risk,” James G. Hodge told McClatchy News.

Hodge is the director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University, an affiliate of the Network for Public Health Law. As the number of COVID-19 cases climbs, he said, the types of “aggressive measures” taking place in some parts of the country will be used elsewhere.

As of Thursday, more than a dozen states from California to North Carolina have declared a state of emergency to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Hodge said those declarations help shape how public health officials can respond at the state and local level, enabling them to act fast while instituting forms of social distancing — “which is one of the only tools we have available to us” during a public health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Officials typically have to go through legal processes to close an establishment or shut down public gatherings, Hodge said. But under a state of emergency, everything is expedited.

“It’s not that we don’t have time for First Amendment interests, it’s that we must act fast,” he said. “What was opened today can be closed tomorrow.”

Getting the courts involved

That doesn’t mean communities in the U.S. will see the kind of large-scale lock-downs happening in Italy and China, Hodge added.

But there are circumstances under which a voluntary recommendation can become involuntary.

A man in Missouri left quarantine to attend a father-daughter dance at a nearby hotel, McClatchy reported, prompting county health officials to warn “he must remain in his home or they will issue a formal quarantine that will require him and the rest of his family to stay in their home by the force of law.”

When someone opts to evade such recommendations, Hodge said, public health authorities can seek a court order mandating their compliance.

“Some of those basic liberties are going to be truncated for a brief period,” he said. “Most Americans understand the need for that.”

But these types of public closures and requests for self-quarantine aren’t without good reason — it’s “flattening the curve,” Vox reported.

If officials don’t stop the rapid spread of coronavirus, or at least slow it down, epidemiologists have said the health care system could be “overwhelmed by a sudden explosion of illness that requires more people to be hospitalized than it can handle,” according to Vox.

Our #FlattenTheCurve graphic is now up on @Wikipedia with proper attribution & a CC-BY-SA licence. Please share far & wide and translate it into any language you can! Details in the thread below. #Covid_19 #COVID2019 #COVID19 #coronavirus Thanks to @XTOTL & @TheSpinoffTV pic.twitter.com/BQop7yWu1Q

— Dr Siouxsie Wiles (@SiouxsieW) March 10, 2020

Least intrusive means

Still, these measures aren’t undertaken without due process.

“The government does have sweeping powers to combat communicable disease but there are limits,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Stanley told McClatchy News officials have a set of guidelines to follow when it comes to making these decisions — it has to be overwhelmingly in the public interest, rooted in rational, scientific ends and done by the least intrusive means possible. There must also be a mechanism to challenge it.

Officials can’t, for example, use COVID-19 as an excuse or pretext “to achieve illegitimate ends” like shutting down a protest or discriminating against certain groups, he said.

Hodge said these types of measures aren’t designed to be punitive, they’re protective — and they don’t “trip any constitutional safeguards when done right.”

He pointed to a case from the 1980s in West Virginia where a man who officials suspected had tuberculosis was involuntarily confined in quarantine. The man argued he was denied due process when the trial court delayed appointing him an attorney, and judges agreed.

That, Hodge said, is an example of what not to do in a public health emergency.

“There really are definitive checklists of things you have to show to utilize quarantine and isolation powers at the level we’re going to see,” he told McClatchy.

‘Not guesswork’

But he said state and local health authorities know that — “this is not guesswork.”

The coronavirus hasn’t caught the public health system off guard so much as prompted them to operate on a much larger scale than usual, Hodge said.

“It gets a lot easier when Americans act on their own volition and self-quarantine pursuant to public health directives,” he said. “Most Americans will respond that way.”

The CDC has guidelines on legal authorities governing isolation and quarantine as well as the types of laws and regulations that come into play during a pandemic.

Be seeing you

I Make No Predictions, But Evil Takeover Is Imminent!

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The Rutherford Institute :: This Is a Test: How Will the Constitution Fare During a Nationwide Lockdown? | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on March 11, 2020

Watching the events of the various lockdowns unfold, I couldn’t help but think of Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering’s remarks during the Nuremberg trials. As Goering noted:

It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.

The training video is only five minutes long, but it says a lot about the government’s mindset and the way its views the citizenry. Even more troubling, however, is what this military video doesn’t say about the Constitution and the rights of the citizenry: nothing at all.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/this_is_a_test_how_will_the_constitution_fare_during_a_nationwide_lockdown

By John W. Whitehead

“It takes a remarkable force to keep nearly a million people quietly indoors for an entire day, home from work and school, from neighborhood errands and out-of-town travel. It takes a remarkable force to keep businesses closed and cars off the road, to keep playgrounds empty and porches unused across a densely populated place 125 square miles in size. This happened … not because armed officers went door-to-door, or imposed a curfew, or threatened martial law. All around the region, for 13 hours, people locked up their businesses and ‘sheltered in place’ out of a kind of collective will. The force that kept them there wasn’t external – there was virtually no active enforcement across the city of the governor’s plea that people stay indoors. Rather, the pressure was an internal one – expressed as concern, or helpfulness, or in some cases, fear – felt in thousands of individual homes.”—Journalist Emily Badger, “The Psychology of a Citywide Lockdown”

This is a test.

This is not a test of our commitment to basic hygiene or disaster preparedness or our ability to come together as a nation in times of crisis, although we’re not doing so well on any of those fronts.

No, what is about to unfold over the next few weeks is a test to see how well we have assimilated the government’s lessons in compliance, fear and police state tactics; a test to see how quickly we’ll march in lockstep with the government’s dictates, no questions asked; and a test to see how little resistance we offer up to the government’s power grabs when made in the name of national security.

Most critically of all, this is a test to see whether the Constitution—and our commitment to the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights—can survive a national crisis and true state of emergency.

Here’s what we know: whatever the so-called threat to the nation—whether it’s civil unrest, school shootings, alleged acts of terrorism, or the threat of a global pandemic in the case of COVID-19—the government has a tendency to capitalize on the nation’s heightened emotions, confusion and fear as a means of extending the reach of the police state.

This coronavirus epidemic, which has brought China’s Orwellian surveillance out of the shadows and caused Italy to declare a nationwide lockdown, threatens to bring the American Police State out into the open on a scale we’ve not seen before.

If and when a nationwide lockdown finally hits—if and when we are forced to shelter in place— if and when militarized police are patrolling the streets— if and when security checkpoints have been established— if and when the media’s ability to broadcast the news has been curtailed by government censors—if and when public systems of communication (phone lines, internet, text messaging, etc.) have been restricted—if and when those FEMA camps the government has been surreptitiously building finally get used as quarantine detention centers for American citizens—if and when military “snatch and grab” teams are deployed on local, state, and federal levels as part of the activated Continuity of Government plans to isolate anyone suspected of being infected with COVID-19—and if and when martial law is enacted with little real outcry or resistance from the public—then we will truly understand the extent to which the government has fully succeeded in recalibrating our general distaste for anything that smacks too overtly of tyranny.

This is how it begins.

The coronavirus epidemic may well be a legitimate health concern, but it’s the government’s response to it that worries me more in the long term.

Based on the government’s track record and its long-anticipated plans for instituting martial law (using armed forces to solve domestic political and social problems) in response to a future crisis, there’s good reason to worry.

This is not a government with a rosy view of the future.

To the contrary, the government’s vision of the future is particularly ominous if a Pentagon training video created by the Army for U.S. Special Operations Command is anything to go by.

Obtained by The Intercept through a FOIA request, the training video titled “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity” provides a chilling glimpse of what the government expects the world to look like in 2030, a world bedeviled by “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” a “growing mass of unemployed,” and an urban landscape in which the prosperous economic elite must be protected from the impoverishment of the have nots.

Add health contagions to the mix, and we’re arrived there, ten years ahead of schedule.

The training video is only five minutes long, but it says a lot about the government’s mindset and the way its views the citizenry. Even more troubling, however, is what this military video doesn’t say about the Constitution and the rights of the citizenry: nothing at all.

In typical fashion, the government seems to consider the Constitution only when forced to do so. It complies with the dictates of the Constitution even less frequently. Indeed, the government’s efforts to systematically lock down the nation and shift us into martial law have not been stymied one iota by the restraints imposed upon it by the Constitution: when it’s not bulldozing its way through the Fourth Amendment, the government just sidesteps it (with the help of the courts).

So what should you expect if the government decides to declare a national state of emergency and institute a nationwide lockdown?

More of the same of what we’ve been seeing in recent years.

After all, like the proverbial boiling frogs, the government has been gradually acclimating us to the specter of a police state for years now: Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality.

This is how you prepare a populace to accept a police state willingly, even gratefully.

You don’t scare them by making dramatic changes. Rather, you acclimate them slowly to their prison walls. Persuade the citizenry that their prison walls are merely intended to keep them safe and danger out. Desensitize them to violence, acclimate them to a military presence in their communities, and persuade them that only a militarized government can alter the seemingly hopeless trajectory of the nation.

It’s happening already.

The sight of police clad in body armor and gas masks, wielding semiautomatic rifles and escorting an armored vehicle through a crowded street, a scene likened to “a military patrol through a hostile city,” no longer causes alarm among the general populace.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be acclimated to the occasional lockdown of government buildings, Jade Helm military drills in small towns so that special operations forces can get “realistic military training” in “hostile” territory, and  Live Active Shooter Drill training exercises, carried out at schools, in shopping malls, and on public transit, which can and do fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers and bystanders into thinking it’s a real crisis.

Still, you can’t say we weren’t warned.

Back in 2008, an Army War College report revealed that “widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.” The 44-page report went on to warn that potential causes for such civil unrest could include another terrorist attack, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.”

In 2009, reports by the Department of Homeland Security surfaced that called on the government to subject right-wing and left-wing activists and military veterans to full-fledged pre-crime surveillance.

Meanwhile, the government has been amassing an arsenal of military weapons, including hollow point bullets, for use domestically and equipping and training their “troops” for war. Even government agencies with largely administrative functions such as the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Smithsonian have been acquiring body armor, riot helmets and shields, cannon launchers and police firearms and ammunition. In fact, there are now at least 120,000 armed federal agents carrying such weapons who possess the power to arrest.

Rounding out this profit-driven campaign to turn American citizens into enemy combatants (and America into a battlefield) is a technology sector that has been colluding with the government to create a Big Brother that is all-knowing, all-seeing and inescapable. It’s not just the drones, fusion centers, license plate readers, stingray devices and the NSA that you have to worry about. You’re also being tracked by the black boxes in your cars, your cell phone, smart devices in your home, grocery loyalty cards, social media accounts, credit cards, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and e-book reader accounts.

All of this has taken place right under our noses, funded with our taxpayer dollars and carried out in broad daylight without so much as a general outcry from the citizenry.

And then you have the government’s Machiavellian schemes for unleashing all manner of dangers on an unsuspecting populace, then demanding additional powers in order to protect “we the people” from the threats. Almost every national security threat that the government has claimed greater powers in order to fight—all the while undermining the liberties of the American citizenry—has been manufactured in one way or another by the government.

We have made it way too easy for the government to lockdown the nation.

Consider that it was seven years ago when the city of Boston was locked down while police carried out a military-style manhunt for suspects in the 2013 Boston Marathon explosion.

Six years ago, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, was locked down, with government officials deploying a massive SWAT team, an armored personnel carrier, men in camouflage pointing heavy artillery at the crowd, smoke bombs and tear gas to quell citizen unrest over a police shooting of a young, unarmed black man.

Five years ago, the city of Baltimore was put under a military-enforced lockdown after civil unrest over police brutality erupted into rioting. More than 1,500 national guard troops were deployed while residents were ordered to stay inside their homes and put under a 10 pm curfew.

Three years ago, it was Charlottesville, Va., population 50,000, that was locked down while government officials declared a state of emergency and enacted heightened security measures tantamount to martial law, despite the absence of any publicized information about credible threats to public safety.

Fast forward to the present moment, with the world on the verge of a possible coronavirus pandemic, and growing numbers of Americans are already voluntarily sheltering in place in an effort to avoid falling ill.

For those like myself who have studied emerging police states, the sight of any American city placed under martial law—its citizens essentially under house arrest (officials used the Orwellian phrase “shelter in place” in Boston to describe the mandatory lockdown), military-style helicopters equipped with thermal imaging devices buzzing the skies, tanks and armored vehicles on the streets, and snipers perched on rooftops, while thousands of black-garbed police swarmed the streets and SWAT teams carried out house-to-house searches—leaves us in a growing state of unease.

Watching the events of the various lockdowns unfold, I couldn’t help but think of Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering’s remarks during the Nuremberg trials. As Goering noted:

It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.

It does indeed work the same in every country.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for the American people to be terrorized into compliance by the government’s latest and greatest scare tactic, even if it means being stripped of one’s constitutional rights at a moment’s notice.

This continual undermining of the rules that protect civil liberties has far-reaching consequences on a populace that not only remains ignorant about their rights but is inclined to sacrifice their liberties for phantom promises of safety.

It may be that we’ve already gone too far down this road. However, don’t let this latest “crisis” cause you to panic to such an extent that you relinquish your fundamental right to make decisions for yourself and your loved ones and willingly surrender what remains of your freedoms.

This too shall pass.

Remember, a police state does not come about overnight.

Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, no matter how it starts, with a questionable infringement justified in the name of safety or a nationwide lockdown to guard against a global pandemic, it always ends the same: by pushing us one step closer to a future in which the government has all the power and “we the people” have none.

Be seeing you

Gun laws don’t deter terrorists:

 

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Rothbard: The Constitution Was a Coup d’État | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 14, 2020

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object….But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire….Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism.

https://mises.org/wire/rothbard-constitution-was-coup-d%C3%A9tat

[Conceived in Liberty: The New Republic, 1784–1791. By Murray N. Rothbard. Edited by Patrick Newman. Mises Institute, 2019. 332 pages.]

We owe Patrick Newman a great debt for his enterprise and editorial skill in bringing to publication the fifth volume, hitherto thought lost, of Murray Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty. The details of his rescue of the lost manuscript are indeed dramatic, but rather than recount them here, I should like to concentrate on a theme central to the new book.

It is well known that Rothbard took the American Revolution to be mainly libertarian in its inspiration. The libertarian impulses of the Revolution were betrayed by a centralizing coup d’état. As Rothbard puts it:

Basically, urban merchants and artisans, as well as many slaveholding planters, united in support of a strong nation-state that would use the power of coercion to grant them privileges and subsidies. The subsidies would come at the expense of the average subsistence yeoman farmer who might be expected to oppose such a new nationalism. But against them, to support a new constitution, were the commercial farmers aided by the southern plantation-farmers who also wanted power and regulation for their own benefit. Given the urban support, the split among the farmers, and the support from wealthy educated elites, it is not surprising that the nationalist forces were able to execute their truly amazing political coup d’état which illegally liquidated the Articles of Confederation and replaced it with the Constitution. In short, they were able to destroy the original individualist and decentralized program of the American Revolution. (p. 128)

The theme I should like to concentrate on is this: what happens to the way we understand the Constitution if Rothbard is right that it was a centralizing document? The Anti-Federalists, with whom Rothbard agreed, denounced it for that reason. For example, in Virginia Patrick Henry, one of Rothbard’s heroes, said:

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object….But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire….Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism. There will be no checks, no real balances, in this government. What can avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances? But, sir, we are not feared by foreigners; we do not make nations tremble. Would this constitute happiness, or secure liberty? (p. 262)

With all this as background, we can now consider the theme I’d like to stress. If the Anti-Federalists were right. We cannot say that the Constitution as originally written gave us a limited government that later regimes have ruthlessly and recklessly expanded. In taking this approach, Rothbard set himself firmly against the dominant trend in American conservative thought. He remarks:

The Constitution was unquestionably a high-nationalist document, creating what Madison once referred to as a “high mounted government.” Not only were the essential lines of the nationalistic Virginia Plan Report carried out in the Constitution, but the later changes made were preponderantly in a nationalist direction….While it is true that the general congressional veto over state laws and the vague broad grant of powers in the original Virginia Plan were whittled down to a list of enumerated powers, enough loopholes existed in the enumerated list: the national supremacy clause; the dominance of the federal judiciary; the virtually unlimited power to tax, raise armies and navies, make war, and regulate commerce; the necessary and proper clause; and the powerful general welfare loophole; all allowed the virtually absolute supremacy of the central government. While libertarian restraints were placed on state powers, no bill of rights existed to check the federal government. (p.211)

We can argue that later regimes extended national power beyond what the Constitution contemplated, but if Rothbard is right, the Constitution as written provides ample scope for tyranny.

One of the leading arguments of Constitutional conservatives is that since Congress is granted the power to declare war, military engagements by later presidents that bypass Congress are unconstitutional. (In several reviews, I have argued this way myself.) Rothbard does not agree. He says:

Congress’ proposed broad military powers occasioned much debate. The nationalists tried to narrow Congress’ power to make war into a more concentrated, and therefore a more controllable, form: Pinckney to the Senate only, Butler to the president himself. While these were defeated, Madison cunningly moved to alter congressional power: ‘make war’ became ‘declare war,’ which left a broad, dangerous power for the president, who was grandiosely designated in the draft as the ‘commander in chief’ of the U.S. army and navy, and of all the state militias. For now, the president might make war even if only Congress could formally declare it.” (p. 185)

Rothbard finds similar slippery language in the Tenth Amendment, imagined by some defenders of limited government to be a principal means to thwart efforts by the federal government to centralize power:

This amendment did in truth transform the Constitution from one of supreme national power to a partially mixed polity where the liberal anti-nationalists had a constitutional argument with at least a fighting chance of acceptance. However, Madison had cunningly left out the word “expressly” before the word “delegated,” so the nationalist judges were able to claim that because the word “expressly” was not there, the “delegated” can vaguely accrue through judges’ elastic interpretation of the Constitution….The Tenth Amendment has been intensely reduced, by conventional judiciary construction, to a meaningless tautology. (pp. 302–3)

(Note that Rothbard does not disagree with the nationalist judges’ interpretation.) Rothbard does see some hope of restraining the central government in the “forgotten” Ninth Amendment, but this was not to be invoked in a serious way by the Supreme Court until the 1960s.

Defenders of the Constitution as a bulwark of limited government often invoke the wisdom to be found in the Federalist Papers, but Rothbard views them as deceptive propaganda:

The essays contained in The Federalist were designed not for the ages—not as an explanation of nationalist views—but as a propaganda document to allay the fears and lull the suspicions of the Antifederal forces. Consequently, these field marshals of the Federalist campaign were concerned to make the Constitution look like a mixed concoction of checks-and balances and popular representation, when they really desired, and believed that they had, a political system of overriding national power. What is remarkable is the fact that historians and conservative political theorists have seized upon and canonized these campaign pieces as fountains of quasi-divine political wisdom, as hallowed texts to be revered, even as somehow a vital part of American constitutional law. (pp. 269–70)

James Madison’s argument that a large national republic would better cope with the dangers of factionalism than a small one is often invoked for its profundity, but Rothbard is not impressed:

Madison claimed that the greater diversity of interests over a large area will make it more difficult for a majority of the interests to combine and oppress a minority. It is difficult to see, however, why such a combination should be difficult….But the main fallacy in Madison’s argument is that it is part and parcel of the antidemocratic Federalist doctrine that the danger of despotic government comes, not from the government, but from among the ranks (i.e., the majority) of the public. The fallacy of this by now should be evident. Even if a majority approves an act of tyranny, it almost never initiates or elaborates or executes such action; rather they are almost always passive tools in the hands of the oligarchy of rulers and their allied favorites of the state apparatus. (pp. 270–71)

Rothbard concludes with this verdict on the Constitution:

Overall, it should be evident that the Constitution was a counterrevolutionary reaction to the libertarianism and decentralization embodied in the American Revolution. The Antifederalists, supporting states’ rights and critical of a strong national government, were decisively beaten by the Federalists, who wanted such a polity under the guise of democracy in order to enhance their own interests and institute a British-style mercantilism over the country. Most historians have taken the side of the Federalists because they support a strong national government that has the power to tax and regulate, call forth armies and invade other countries, and cripple the power of the states. The enactment of the Constitution in 1788 drastically changed the course of American history from its natural decentralized and libertarian direction to an omnipresent leviathan that fulfilled all of the Antifederalists’ fears. (p. 312)

There is evidence that Rothbard wrote the manuscript of this book before 1967 (see p. 312, editor’s note 7). But I do not think that he later changed his mind about the Constitution. Those who wish to challenge his brilliant analysis have a difficult task ahead of them.

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Murray Rothbard’s Practical Politics | The American Conservative

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A Primer on Domestic Spying – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 13, 2020

Also unabated and equally unlawful and unconstitutional is the government’s use of cell towers as monitors of movement. Whenever anyone travels with a mobile device in the U.S., the nearest cell tower picks up signals from the mobile device, even turned off. The government, which either owns the cell towers or under Section 215, captures all the data the towers amass, can effectively follow any person with a mobile device in real-time.

How does the government get away with this?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/andrew-p-napolitano/a-primer-on-domestic-spying/

By

“The Framers … conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men.” — Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941)

While we were all consumed by impeachment, a pernicious piece of legislation was slowly and silently making its way through Congress. It is a renewal of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The Patriot Act of 2001 has three sections that are scheduled to expire on March 15. One of those sections is the infamous 215, which authorizes the federal government to capture without a warrant all records of all people in America held by third parties.

Do we really want the federal government to spy without warrants? How can Congress, which has sworn to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, legislate such a blatant violation of it? Here is the backstory.

After the Constitution was ratified in 1789, it was soon amended to recognize the existence of natural rights and to keep the government from interfering with them. As Justice Brandeis wrote 140 years afterward, the most comprehensive of those rights was the right to be let alone, which today we call privacy.

To secure that right, the Fourth Amendment was ratified. The purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to prevent the government from utilizing general warrants and to require judicially authorized search warrants issued under narrow circumstances. James Madison, who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, shared the hatred that colonists-turned-Americans had for general warrants.

A general warrant was a document issued by a secret court in London authorizing the bearer of the document, usually a British soldier or intelligence agent, to search wherever he wished and to seize whatever he found. The applicant for the warrant needed to demonstrate to the court only that the warrant was intended to unearth something that the government wanted. Because these warrants did not specify the object of the search, there was no limit to them.

Hence Madison’s language in the Fourth Amendment preserving privacy but permitting the government to invade it only upon a showing, under oath, of probable cause of crime, and then requiring the warrant to specify in writing the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.

After 9/11, in the collective spirit of fear, timidity and subservience to the presidency, and in utter disregard for its members’ oaths to uphold the Constitution, Congress enacted the Patriot Act. It permits one federal agent to authorize another federal agent to search and seize whatever the latter wishes to look at and capture so long as it is in the possession of third-party financial institutions.

Over the years, the definition of “financial institution” has been radically expanded by both legislation and presidential executive orders so as to include nearly every conceivable entity that has any records about any person in America — from banks to hospitals to lawyers to merchants to credit card issuers to telecoms and computer service providers and even the post office.

At the same time that the Patriot Act was being expanded, the National Security Agency — America’s 60,000-person strong domestic spy apparatus — was not even pretending to follow legislation. We know from Edward Snowden’s revelations — which have never been disputed by the government — that since 2003, the NSA has captured not only the records of Americans held by third parties but also the records of every keystroke touched by every person in America and every telephone call transmitted over fiber optic cable. That includes every email, text message and piece of data — even what was deleted. This warrantless mass surveillance continues today unabated.

Also unabated and equally unlawful and unconstitutional is the government’s use of cell towers as monitors of movement. Whenever anyone travels with a mobile device in the U.S., the nearest cell tower picks up signals from the mobile device, even turned off. The government, which either owns the cell towers or under Section 215, captures all the data the towers amass, can effectively follow any person with a mobile device in real-time.

How does the government get away with this?

The feds have labored mightily to keep all of these constitutional violations as far from judicial scrutiny as they can. They rightly fear — they know — that all of this violates the Fourth Amendment. If their nefarious behavior, which we know they have used on the president of the United States and on the Supreme Court, comes under judicial scrutiny, the feds will argue that the Fourth Amendment only pertains to criminal prosecutions and not to domestic spying; thus, they can ignore it when they spy.

They have made up this argument out of thin air. There is neither a hint in the language of the amendment nor a whiff in its history to support that argument.

Has the government lost sight of our birthright? It is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — not to mention getting into Heaven. How can we do any of this if the government we have hired to preserve our liberty is surreptitiously destroying it?

Brandeis’ language about being let alone was written in 1928, in a dissent to a Supreme Court opinion that failed to recognize the right to privacy. Today, his dissent is the law of the land, but the feds ignore it. He wrote that there is more to life than owning material goods. There is the fulfillment of spiritual, intellectual and cultural goals and the achievement of intimate aspirations, none of which are the government’s business.

Why do we permit the government to assault our most basic freedoms, under the law or under the table?

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The Constitution IS the Crisis | Antonius Aquinas

Posted by M. C. on February 12, 2020

Once read, any notion of the “founding fathers” as disinterested statesmen who sublimated their own interests and that of their constituents to that of their country will be disavowed.  Moreover, The New Republic:1784-1791 is the most important in the series since the grave crises that the nation now faces can be traced to those fateful days in Philadelphia when a powerful central state was created.

I vouch for the first 4 volumes. The best history you never learned in school.

https://antoniusaquinas.com/2020/02/10/the-constitution-is-the-crisis/

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A Review of Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, Vol. 5The posthumous release of Murray Rothbard’s fifth volume of his early American history series, Conceived in Liberty, is a cause of celebration not only for those interested in the country’s constitutional period, but also for the present day as the nation is faced with acute social, economic, and political crises.  The fifth volume, The New Republic: 1784-1791, stands with Boston T. Party’s 1997 release, Hologram of Liberty, as a grand rebuttal of the cherished notion held by most contemporary scholars, pundits on the Right, and, surprisingly, many libertarians who believe that the US Constitution is some great bulwark in defense of individual liberty and a promoter of economic success.ConceivedInLiberty4in1 Volumes 1-4

Rothbard’s narrative highlights the crucial years after the American Revolution focusing on the events and personalities that led to the calling for, drafting, and eventual promulgation of the Constitution in 1789.  Not only does he describe the key factors that led to the creation of the American nation-state, but he gives an insightful account of the machinations which took place in Philadelphia and a trenchant analysis of the document itself which has become, in the eyes of most conservatives, on a par with Holy Writ.

What Might Have Been

While Rothbard writes in a lively and engaging manner, the eventual outcome and triumph of the nationalist forces leaves the reader with a certain sadness.  Despite the fears expressed by the Antifederalists that the new government was too powerful and would lead to tyranny, through coercion, threats, lies, bribery, and arm twisting by the politically astute Federalists, the Constitution came into being.  Yet, what if it had been the other way around and the forces against it had prevailed?

It is safe to assume that America would have been a far more prosperous and less war-like place.  The common held notion that the Constitution was needed to keep peace among the contending states is countered by Rothbard, who points out a number of instances where states settled their differences, most notably Maryland and Virginia as they came to an agreement on the navigation of the Chesapeake Bay.  [129-30]

Without a powerful central state to extract resources and manpower, overseas intervention by the country would have been difficult to undertake.  Thus, the US’s disastrous participation in the two world wars would have been avoided.  Furthermore, it would have been extremely unlikely for a Confederation Congress to impose an income tax as the federal government successfully did through a constitutional amendment in 1913.

Nor would the horrific misnamed “Civil War” ever take place with its immense loss of life and the destruction of the once flourishing Southern civilization.  The triumph of the Federal government ended forever “states rights” in the US and, no doubt, inspired centralizing tendencies throughout the world, most notably in Germany which became unified under Prussian domination.

In a failed attempt in 1786 to enact an impost tax under the Confederation, Abraham Yates, a New York lawyer and prominent Antifederalist, spoke of decentralization as the key to liberty as Rothbard aptly summarizes:

Yates also warned that true republicanism can only be preserved in small states, and

keenly pointed out that in the successful Republics of Switzerland and the

Netherlands the local provinces retained full control over their finances.  A taxing

power in Congress would demolish state sovereignty and reduce the states, where

the people could keep watch on their representatives, to mere adjuncts of

congressional power, and liberty would be gone.  [64]

Antifederalists, such as Yates, had a far greater understanding of how liberty and individual rights would be protected than their statist opponents such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.  The Antifederalists looked to Europe as a model, which, for most of its history, was made up of decentralized political configurations.  The Federalists, on the other hand, got much of their inspiration from the Roman Republic and later Empire.  There is little question that an America, with the political attributes of a multi-state Europe, would be far less menacing to both its own inhabitants and to the rest of the world than what it has become under the current Federal Leviathan if the Constitution never passed.

Speculation aside, historical reality meant that America would be fundamentally different than it would have been had the Articles of Confederation survived, as Rothbard points out:

The enactment of the Constitution in 1788 drastically changed the course of

American history from its natural decentralized and libertarian direction to an

omnipresent leviathan that fulfilled all of the Antifederalists’ fears.  [312]

Limited Government Myth

One of the great myths surrounding the American Constitution – which continues within conservative circles to this very day – is that the document limits government power.  After reading Rothbard, such a notion can only be considered a fairy tale!

The supposed “defects” of the Articles of Confederation were adroitly used by the wily nationalists as a cover to hide their real motives.  Simply put – the Articles had to be scrapped and a new national government, far more powerful than what had existed under the Articles, had to be created as Rothbard asserts: “The nationalists who went into the convention agreed on certain broad objectives, crucial for a new government, all designed to remodel the United States into a country with the British political structure.”  [145]

In passing the Constitution, the nationalist forces gained almost all they had set out to accomplish – a powerful central state and with it a strong chief executive office, and the destruction of the states as sovereign entities.  The supposed “checks and balances,” so much beloved by Constitution enthusiasts, has proven worthless in checking the central state’s largesse.  Checks and balances exist within the central government and is not offset by any prevailing power, be it the states or citizenry.

There was no reform of the system as it stood, but a new state was erected on the decentralized foundation of the Confederation.  Why the idea of the founding fathers as some limited government proponents is a mystery.

The Chief Executive Read the rest of this entry »

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Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week – Erie Times E-Edition Article

Posted by M. C. on February 2, 2020

The Constitution declares the ability to declare war rests with congress.

Representatives Kelly and Thompson continue to defy the Constitution they swore to uphold.

Their allegiance does not rest with you. It lays with the warparty and the military/industrial/bankster/congressional complex.
http://erietimes.pa.newsmemory.com/?publink=04e38c515

Voterama

Asserting congressional control over war with Iran: Voting 228-175, the House on Thursday adopted an amendment to HR 550 that would deny funding of any U.S. military action against Iran or its proxy forces without congressional authorization, except when there is an imminent threat to the United States, its armed forces or its territories. The measure asserts the sole constitutional power of Congress to declare war as spelled out in the 1973 War Powers Resolution. The president would have to notify Congress within 48 hours if he marshals the U.S. military against Iran, then withdraw the forces within a specified time unless Congress votes to authorize the action. A yes vote was to amend the bill and send it to the Senate. Kelly: No. Thompson: No.

Repealing Iraq war resolution: Voting 236-166, the House on Thursday adopted an amendment to HR 550 (above) that would repeal the 2002 Iraq war resolution, which has been cited as the legal basis of U.S. military actions in Iraq and other global theaters since, including the recent U.S. assassination at the Baghdad airport of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Congress would have six months to update U.S. war authority. Until it does, the president could immediately deploy forces to protect national security without seeking congressional approval. Opponents said the lapse would endanger U.S. troops and increase American exposure to terrorist attacks. A yes vote was to amend the bill and send it to the Senate. Kelly: No. Thompson: No.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Ends ‘Common Core,’ Embraces ‘Common Sense’

Posted by M. C. on January 28, 2020

It sounds great but remember this is replacing one government program with another.

The proof is in the pudding.

ensuring that our students are well versed in the United States Constitution

The “C” word, right out loud!

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/01/27/florida-gov-ron-desantis-ends-common-core-embraces-common-sense/

by Dr. Susan Berry

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Friday he is officially putting an end to the Common Core Standards in his state and replacing them with standards that “embrace common sense.”

DeSantis said at a press conference that his new “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking” (B.E.S.T.) standards, which will be released in the coming days, will mark a “return to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic,” reported Fox 13 News.

With the B.E.S.T. standards, the governor said Florida students will “understand the principles that make America great.”

One year ago, DeSantis issued an executive order that called for the elimination of the Common Core Standards, which former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) had urged the state to adopt. Ultimately, the state “rebranded” the Common Core as the Florida Standards.

In his order, DeSantis instructed the state education commissioner to complete a review of the Florida K-12 academic standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics and submit it to the governor with recommendations for revisions by January 1, 2020.

The governor said in a press release announcing the new standards:

When I took office, I made a pledge to the citizens of Florida to overhaul our educational standards to remove all vestiges of Common Core and return to the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. I am pleased that this historic task has been completed and we are well on our way to making Florida the best state in the nation for education. My deepest thanks to Commissioner Corcoran and Department of Education staff, Florida teachers, parents, subject matter experts and stakeholders for their participation in this transparent, in-depth and comprehensive process.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said DeSantis “has proven once again that he is the Education Governor.”

Some of the major changes to the K-12 standards include:

  • Place reading at the core of the standards development process;
  • Place elevated focus on memorizing math facts;
  • Content-rich standards that focus on classic literature;
  • Define rigor as the product of maintaining high expectations for students

“This is definitely a great step forward because what I’ve seen of the draft, all of our suggestions were taken into consideration,” said middle school teacher Seth Federman, who helped revise the standards.

One of the areas DeSantis said he wanted to emphasize in K-12 standards was civics.

The new B.E.S.T. standards will fulfill the governor’s mandate to “identify opportunities to equip high school graduates with sufficient knowledge of America’s civics, particularly the principles reflected in the United States Constitution, so as to be capable of discharging the responsibilities associated with American citizenship.”

Changes to the curriculum will include a civics literacy examination for all high school seniors and a recommended reading list that includes America’s significant foundational documents.

Federman said the B.E.S.T. standards will prepare Florida’s students for the outside world by emphasizing civics for all K-12 students.

“A successful child is a successful citizen if they know their rights as a citizen,” the teacher said.

Corcoran said the new standards “represent the highest quality knowledge-based standards in the nation.”

“They not only incorporate civics throughout every grade, a first of their kind in the nation, ensuring that our students are well versed in the United States Constitution and the responsibilities of citizenship, they also provide educators with clear and concise standards,” he added.

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The Rutherford Institute :: Deadly Distractions: Laying the Groundwork for the Next Civil War | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on January 23, 2020

History may show that from this point forward, we will have left behind any semblance of constitutional government and entered into a totalitarian state where all citizens are suspects and security trumps freedom.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/deadly_distractions_laying_the_groundwork_for_the_next_civil_war

By John W. Whitehead

And so it continues.

This impeachment fiasco is merely the latest in a never-ending series of distractions, distortions, and political theater aimed at diverting the public’s attention from the sinister advances of the American Police State.

Don’t allow yourselves to be distracted, diverted or mesmerized by the cheap theater tricks.

This impeachment spectacle is Shakespearean in its scope: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Nothing is the key word here.

Despite the wall-to-wall media coverage, nothing will change.

Mark my words: the government will remain as corrupt and self-serving as ever, dominated by two political factions that pretend to be at odds with each other all the while moving in lockstep to maintain the status quo.

So President Trump’s legal team can grandstand all they want about the impeachment trial being “an affront to the Constitution” and “a dangerous perversion of the Constitution,” but that’s just smoke and mirrors.

You know what is really “an affront to the Constitution”? The U.S. government.

We’ve been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we’re certainly on that downward trajectory now, and things are moving fast.

The republic has fallen.

The Deep State’s plot to take over America has succeeded.

The American system of representative government has been overthrown by a profit-driven, militaristic, corporate oligarchy bent on total control and global domination through the imposition of martial law here at home and by fomenting wars abroad.

Even now, we are being pushed and prodded towards a civil war, not because the American people are so divided but because that’s how corrupt governments control a populace (i.e., divide and conquer).

These are dangerous times.

These are indeed dangerous times but not because of violent crime, which remains at an all-time low, or because of terrorism, which is statistically rare, or because the borders are being invaded by foreign armies, which data reports from the Department of Homeland Security refute.

No, the real danger that we face comes from none other than the U.S. government and the powers it has granted to its standing armies to rob, steal, cheat, harass, detain, brutalize, terrorize, torture and kill American citizens with immunity.

The danger “we the people” face comes from masked invaders on the government payroll who crash through our doors in the dark of night, shoot our dogs, and terrorize our families.

This danger comes from militarized henchmen on the government payroll who demand absolute obedience, instill abject fear, and shoot first and ask questions later.

This danger comes from greedy, power-hungry bureaucrats on the government payroll who have little to no understanding of their constitutional limits.

This danger comes from greedy politicians and corporations for whom profit trumps principle.

You want to know about the state of our union? It’s downright scary.

Consider, if you will, all of the dastardly, devious, diabolical, dangerous, debilitating, deceitful, dehumanizing, demonic, depraved, dishonorable, disillusioning, discriminatory, dictatorial schemes inflicted on “we the people” by a bureaucratic, totalitarian regime that has long since ceased to be “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Americans have no protection against police abuse. It is no longer unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later, such as the 16-year-old teenager who skipped school only to be shot by police after they mistook him for a fleeing burglar. Then there was the unarmed black man in Texas “who was pursued and shot in the back of the neck by Austin Police… after failing to properly identify himself and leaving the scene of an unrelated incident.” And who could forget the 19-year-old Seattle woman who was accidentally shot in the leg by police after she refused to show her hands? What is increasingly common, however, is the news that the officers involved in these incidents get off with little more than a slap on the hands.

Americans are little more than pocketbooks to fund the police state. If there is any absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the American taxpayer always gets ripped off. This is true, whether you’re talking about taxpayers being forced to fund high-priced weaponry that will be used against us, endless wars that do little for our safety or our freedoms, or bloated government agencies such as the National Security Agency with its secret budgets, covert agendas and clandestine activities. Rubbing salt in the wound, even monetary awards in lawsuits against government officials who are found guilty of wrongdoing are paid by the taxpayer.

Americans are no longer innocent until proven guilty. We once operated under the assumption that you were innocent until proven guilty. Due in large part to rapid advances in technology and a heightened surveillance culture, the burden of proof has been shifted so that the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty has been usurped by a new norm in which all citizens are suspects. This is exemplified by police practices of stopping and frisking people who are merely walking down the street and where there is no evidence of wrongdoing. Likewise, by subjecting Americans to full-body scans and license-plate readers without their knowledge or compliance and then storing the scans for later use, the government—in cahoots with the corporate state—has erected the ultimate suspect society. In such an environment, we are all potentially guilty of some wrongdoing or other.

Americans no longer have a right to self-defense. In the wake of various shootings in recent years, “gun control” has become a resounding theme. Those advocating gun reform see the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms as applying only to government officials. As a result, even Americans who legally own firearms are being treated with suspicion and, in some cases, undue violence. In one case, a Texas man had his home subjected to a no-knock raid and was shot in his bed after police, attempting to deliver a routine search warrant, learned that he was in legal possession of a firearm. In another incident, a Florida man who was licensed to carry a concealed firearm found himself detained for two hours during a routine traffic stop in Maryland while the arresting officer searched his vehicle in vain for the man’s gun, which he had left at home. Incidentally, the Trump Administration has done more to crack down on Second Amendment rights than anything the Obama Administration ever managed.

Americans no longer have a right to private property. If government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family, your property is no longer private and secure—it belongs to the government. Likewise, if government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property.

Americans no longer have a say about what their children are exposed to in school. Incredibly, the government continues to insist that parents essentially forfeit their rights when they send their children to a public school. This growing tension over whether young people, especially those in the public schools, are essentially wards of the state, to do with as government officials deem appropriate, in defiance of the children’s constitutional rights and those of their parents, is reflected in the debate over sex education programs that expose young people to all manner of sexual practices and terminology, zero tolerance policies that strip students of any due process rights, let alone parental involvement in school discipline, and Common Core programs that teach students to be test-takers rather than critical thinkers.

Americans are powerless in the face of militarized police. In early America, citizens were considered equals with law enforcement officials. Authorities were rarely permitted to enter one’s home without permission or in a deceitful manner. And it was not uncommon for police officers to be held personally liable for trespass when they wrongfully invaded a citizen’s home. Unlike today, early Americans could resist arrest when a police officer tried to restrain them without proper justification or a warrant—which the police had to allow citizens to read before arresting them. (Daring to dispute a warrant with a police official today who is armed with high-tech military weapons and tasers would be nothing short of suicidal.) As police forces across the country continue to be transformed into outposts of the military, with police agencies acquiring military-grade hardware in droves, Americans are finding their once-peaceful communities transformed into military outposts, complete with tanks, weaponry, and other equipment designed for the battlefield.

Americans no longer have a right to bodily integrity. Court rulings undermining the Fourth Amendment and justifying invasive strip searches have left us powerless against police empowered to forcefully draw our blood, strip search us, and probe us intimately. Accounts are on the rise of individuals—men and women—being subjected to what is essentially government-sanctioned rape by police in the course of “routine” traffic stops. Remember the New Mexico man who was subjected to a 12-hour ordeal of anal probes, X-rays, enemas, and finally a colonoscopy—all because he allegedly rolled through a stop sign?

Americans no longer have a right to the expectation of privacy. Despite the staggering number of revelations about government spying on Americans’ phone calls, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Google searches, emails, bookstore and grocery purchases, bank statements, commuter toll records, etc., Congress, the president and the courts have done little to nothing to counteract these abuses. Instead, they seem determined to accustom us to life in this electronic concentration camp.

Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice. The U.S. Supreme Court was intended to be an institution established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds. Yet through their deference to police power, preference for security over freedom, and evisceration of our most basic rights for the sake of order and expediency, the justices of the Supreme Court have become the architects of the American police state in which we now live, while the lower courts have appointed themselves courts of order, concerned primarily with advancing the government’s agenda, no matter how unjust or illegal.

Americans no longer have a representative government. We have moved beyond the era of representative government and entered a new age, let’s call it the age of authoritarianism. In fact, a study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern University concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens. Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called “economic elite.” Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by this governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups. It is not overstating matters to say that Congress, which has done its best to keep their unhappy constituents at a distance, may well be the most self-serving, semi-corrupt institution in America.

In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism: a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere subjects to be controlled. Rest assured that when and if fascism finally takes hold in America, the basic forms of government will remain: Fascism will appear to be friendly. The legislators will be in session. There will be elections, and the news media will continue to cover the entertainment and political trivia. Consent of the governed, however, will no longer apply. Actual control will have finally passed to the oligarchic elite controlling the government behind the scenes. Sound familiar? Clearly, we are now ruled by an oligarchic elite of governmental and corporate interests. We have moved into “corporatism” (favored by Benito Mussolini), which is a halfway point on the road to full-blown fascism. Corporatism is where the few moneyed interests—not elected by the citizenry—rule over the many.

History may show that from this point forward, we will have left behind any semblance of constitutional government and entered into a totalitarian state where all citizens are suspects and security trumps freedom. Even with its constantly shifting terrain, this topsy-turvy travesty of law and government has become America’s new normal. From Clinton to Bush, then Obama and now Trump, it’s as if we’ve been caught in a time loop, forced to re-live the same thing over and over again: the same assaults on our freedoms, the same disregard for the rule of law, the same subservience to the Deep State, and the same corrupt, self-serving government that exists only to amass power, enrich its shareholders and ensure its continued domination.

Elections will not save us.

I haven’t even touched on the corporate state, the military industrial complex, SWAT team raids, invasive surveillance technology, zero tolerance policies in the schools, overcriminalization, or privatized prisons, to name just a few, but what I have touched on should be enough to show that the landscape of our freedoms has already changed dramatically from what it once was and will no doubt continue to deteriorate unless Americans can find a way to wrest back control of their government and reclaim their freedoms.

There can be no denying that the world is indeed a dangerous place, but what the president and his cohorts fail to acknowledge is that it’s the government that poses the gravest threat to our freedoms and way of life, and no amount of politicking, parsing or pandering will change that.

It is easy to be diverted, distracted and amused by the antics of politicians, the pomp and circumstance of awards shows, athletic events, and entertainment news, and the feel-good, wrapped-in-the-flag evangelism that passes for religion today.

What is far more difficult to face up to is the reality of life in America, where unemployment, poverty, inequality, injustice and violence by government agents are increasingly norms, and where “we the people” are at a distinct disadvantage in the face of the government elite’s power grabs, greed and firepower.

The Constitution doesn’t stand a chance against a federalized, globalized standing army protected by legislative, judicial and executive branches that are all on the same side, no matter what political views they subscribe to: suffice it to say, they are not on our side or the side of freedom.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the powers-that-be want us to remain distracted, divided, alienated from each other based on our politics, our bank accounts, our religion, our race and our value systems. Yet as George Orwell observed, “The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.”

You either believe in freedom or you don’t. It’s that simple.

Everything else is just a deadly distraction. As Orwell observed in 1984:

“All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because, being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice.”

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Welcome to the Potemkin Village of Washington Power | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on December 3, 2019

How did we get to the point where a former senior military officer calls for the removal of a duly elected president…

However, with the staggering intelligence failure that was 9/11 and two protracted and losing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some have begun to question whether the “grown-ups” in the national security bureaucracy are even competent… Why is this even a question?

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/welcome-to-the-potemkin-village-of-washington-power/

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Welcome to the Potemkin Village of Washington Power

Don’t be misled: elected officials are subjugated to the national security firmament. Trump is just exposing it.

United States Navy Vice Admiral William McRaven testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill June 28, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

What American constitutional government most urgently needs at present is for our Madisonian institutions—the presidency, the Congress, and the courts—to wrest back control of national security policy from an unelected and increasingly rogue national security establishment.

That ominous challenge to constitutionalism was on full display with the recent op-ed piece in the New York Times by retired Admiral William McRaven, in which he brashly warned that unless Trump jumped aboard the Forever War bandwagon, he must be removed, and “the sooner the better.” The U.S. must have a policy, McRaven said, that protects “the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny.”

How did we get to the point where a former senior military officer calls for the removal of a duly elected president because he doesn’t stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Rohingyas? McRaven’s op-ed represents something new in American politics: the assertion that an elected president is illegitimate unless he works to spread our “ideals of universal freedom and equality” through military action and alliances. McRaven also argued that it is “the American military…the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press,” all unelected institutions, that now embody the true American civic religion and protect its “ideals.”

Even though President Trump’s promises to end wars and question expensive alliances were quite popular with the electorate, in the view of many in the national security establishment, elections do not bestow constitutional legitimacy. They assume instead that their “ideals” and belligerent foreign policy represent the true animating principles and governing force of the nation. To question them is tantamount to an “attack” on America “from within.”

While the rank-and-file military are among the most patriotic of Americans and show unwavering support for the Constitution, there is a huge class of elite national security bureaucrats who, whatever they may say on ceremonial occasions, believe they are above the Constitution…

Huntington points out that, when the Constitution was framed, there was no real concern about controlling the military, and the intelligence community did not even exist. The military arts were not highly specialized and militia officers were typically members of the political establishment who were elected or appointed by local legislatures. Military leaders like George Washington were part and parcel of the political culture of the ruling class. There simply wasn’t a danger of a rogue national security establishment in 1789, and for all their sagacity, the Framers of the Constitution did not foresee the emergence of one.

In the mid-19th century, all this changed. Militaries became highly specialized and officers became professional soldiers. A martial culture was developed that was distinct from politics. Military “academies” were founded to inculcate this new culture and to teach the new specialties within the military arts. As a result, Huntington argued, presidents needed more “objective” control of national security institutions. When Generals McClellan and McArthur famously questioned the national security decisions of their presidents, Lincoln and Truman fired them respectively. But the tradition that the national security establishment must take orders from the president is a political, not a constitutional, precedent, and it is breaking down.

Tufts law professor Michael Glennon points out in a recent essay in Humanitas that the Cold War brought something new and ominous in military-civilian relations. The national security bureaucracy became so large and omnipotent that the Madisonian branches of government became something like the British House of Lords, symbolically important but in reality without much power…

Glennon also points out that, prior to Trump, there was an unwritten pact between the bureaucracy and the Madisonian government: never publicly disagree…

However, with the staggering intelligence failure that was 9/11 and two protracted and losing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some have begun to question whether the “grown-ups” in the national security bureaucracy are even competent. Trump gave voice to those concerns in the 2016 campaign, and the result has been a breakdown in the Cold War truce between the two components of the double government…

The American constitutional order is thus in great peril. Those obsessed with getting rid of the president should consider that, were Trump to be removed, it could be the constitutional equivalent of Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon.

Call Donald Trump cartoonish and erratic, but he also happens to be the duly elected president of the United States. And while we must admire the selfless service of so many in the national security establishment, as citizens, we also have the right to ask people like William McRaven: who elected you?

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