Wednesday, September 17, 2008

U.S. Constitution Day -- Sept. 17, 2008

By Carol Gee

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America@.

Senator Robert Byrd, President Pro Tem, carries a copy of the Constitution with him as he goes about. He explains:

I carry a copy of the U.S. Constitution with me wherever I go. In as much as I am a U.S. Senator, this may not seem like strange behavior. I refer to it and study its provisions every day -- but what about you? What do you know about the Constitution? How much of it do you carry around with you? Why should you want to know about your Constitution?

As we all celebrate the signing of the Constitution on this day back in 1787, I note that Senator Byrd is a Democrat. And so am I. But, as Democrats, we have a number of things in common with true conservatives, such as Bruce Fein, Bob Barr, and Richard Viguerie. At both ends of the political spectrum, we want our Constitution back, just like these Republicans reported on 9/16/08, at The Huffington Post, to be "Conservatives [who] turn on McCain." Our priceless document has been hijacked,* in effect, by the Bush Neoconservatives and their followers. Fein puts it this way:

"The most conservative principles of the Constitution have been repeatedly violated in the last several years," says Fein. "[The] Founding Fathers engrafted a system of checks and review of one branch by another -- a system of due process safeguards against injustice that is likely to occur because of prejudice and fear. And those checks and balances have eroded enormously over the last several years, particularly since 9/11."

Building on the natural and normal fears of citizens after the terrorist attacks, an entire "security" industry has emerged. What these businesses do often comes perilously close to assaulting the Constitution. For example, what do you think about this system? Two Flint-area charter schools install high-tech security that does background checks* on every visitor, according to Shannon Murphy at the The Flint Journal, 9/12/08. This predicted military-industrial complex has been relentless in its pursuit of us. This rather extensive and fiery article by Tom Burghardt is from Global Research (9/15/08).# Titled "Big Brother in the "Big Apple -- Encircling Manhattan with thousands of surveillance cameras," it is a very passionate and thorough litany of the out of bounds behavior of the Bush administration. To quote:

In other words, COINTELPRO-style infiltration and neutralization operations by federal gangsters and their paid provocateurs will now be "normalized" under new Bushist rules. However, far from being a case of improving the efficacy of "information gathering" to "detect terrorist threats" as the Post claims, new federal guidelines will create a broad legal framework for the suppression of basic constitutional and democratic rights.

Indeed, under the new rules proposed by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, "threat assessments" based on one's race, ethnicity or religion will become standard operating procedure as FBI agents and their informants target individuals, or left-wing political groups, solely on the basis of constitutionally-protected speech or religion.

. . . By tossing Nixon-era intelligence guidelines out the window, Mukasey and his masters in the Executive branch are granting line agents, "unparalleled leeway to investigate Americans without proper suspicion, and that will inevitably result in constitutional violations," according to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Our right to protest the government and its policies is not suspicious behavior; it is constitutionally protected speech."

Unfortunately, in America's post-constitutional "new normal," characterized by an unprecedented looting of social wealth by crony capitalists, bloody wars of aggression, environmental plunder and the general putrefaction of culture under the flag of a "Christian Republic," protesting the government and its policies are indeed the quintessential hallmarks of suspicious behavior!

In the meantime Wall Street and our ubiquitous banking system is looking to the government to help them survive, after years of unregulated excess and corruption. Those of us who decry the "corporatocracy" are shedding few tears for all the greedy money men and women who are now in such deep trouble, along with some of their Republican enablers. However, yesterday my newsletter, The Democratic Strategist in its piece, "Meltdowns and Morality," focused on the important thoughts of Matt Yglesias. He reminded us that the meltdown is also hurting millions of hard working Americans caught in the blaze.

And all the while, the GOP is working to keep eligible African Americans from voting in several states, according to another fine writer, Jonathan Alter at Newsweek (9/11/08). He reports on "Jim Crawford Republicans."# Despite all of this, I am comforted by the knowledge that the Constitution set up the process by which we can make major course corrections. It is called an election and we get the chance to vote no later than November 4, 2008. It might be a good idea to vote early if you are able. Things are really dicey around the old United States these days, as long as the GOP can make mischief.


My "creativity and dreaming" post today at Making Good Mondays is a series of quotes about the Constitution from famous leaders in history.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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