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We are alone in the defense of the Republic

5 July 2012

Summary: One by one, our professions and institutions have failed us and the Republic. Under pressure their standards proved to be parchment barriers defending our liberty.  Rightly so, since the Constitution stands upon its people’s love. When that fades nothing can prevents citizens from becoming subjects.

Pretty sparks in the sky mean nothing.

Will it be sufficient to mark, with precision, the boundaries of these departments, in the Constitution of the government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power? This is the security which appears to have been principally relied on by the compilers of most of the American constitutions.

But experience assures us, that the efficacy of the provision has been greatly overrated; and that some more adequate defense is indispensably necessary for the more feeble, against the more powerful, members of the government.

— James Madison, The Federalist Paper #48

We are alone, unorganized in the defense of the Republic. By now it’s obvious that both political parties have, in their different ways, been co-opted as agents of change by its enemies. Less recognized is that the professions — especially of police, military, law and medicine  — have shown that they’ll do nothing as groups to defend the Republic. They’ll do nothing against their members that violate their standards in the service of our ruling elites and their government.Their grand ethical standards are, like the Constitution itself, just parchment barriers that mean nothing without the love of liberty in their members.

A few doctors help with torture. Their fellows do not shun them; medical associations do nothing. See More symptoms of decay: professional associations abandoning their standards and obligation to protect us, 4 May 2011.


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Some attorneys write briefs justifying the most egregious violations of the law.  Like John Yoo’s (Prof Law, Berkeley) justification of torture, illegal surveillance, and the almost unlimited expansion of executive power.  And the still-secret briefs to Obama justifying assassination of US citizens without charge, trial, or verdict. For details see the links at Wikipedia. For an on-going justification of expanding government power by brilliant law professors, see the Volokh Conspiracy, where (usually; it’s a group blog) the only civil rights that count are those about property or personal behavior (ie, who you screw) — otherwise it’s yo government! all the way.

As for the police — increasingly armed, trained, and acting like soldiers (see Randy Balko‘s articles at Reason), acting to oppress the poor and protestors — many have moved to a space long distant from To Protect and Serve.

The big question remaining: how far will the military go? The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act (see Wikipedia for details) limits (but does not prevent) the US Army, Air Force, and National Guard actions in the US:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

Unfortunately that too has been eroded away, with slowly increasing military involvement in domestic affairs — especially in the aspects of the War on Terror touching US citizens. Perhaps before the end we’ll see how seriously they take their oaths. My guess (emphasis on guess) is that they’ll side with what they see as the national interest (as defined by our rulers) against the plain fact of the Constitution.

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Does this sound exaggerated?  We’re far enough into the evolution to a new regime so that experts can calmly announce the Republic’s death. Such as Eric Posner (Prof Law, U Chicago; bio here) and Adrian Vermeule (Prof Law, Harvard). For details see Conservatives tells us not to worry about the Constitution’s death, 23 March 2011.

Solutions

The next step must to organize.  It will be a long road to retake our institutions and reverse the damage done to the Republic.

And if unsuccessful, the Third Republic awaits in the future.

For More Information on this 4th of Julyabout the American spirit, the American soul

  1. America’s Most Dangerous Enemy, 1 March 2006
  2. Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
  3. de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
  4. The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
  5. We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
  6. This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are), 8 January 2008
  7. About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep, 25 January 2009
  8. Are we citizens? Or peasants?, 21 May 2009
  9. A famous guest speaker visits the FM site to tell us that we are not weak — we are strong, 8 June 2008 — Patrick Henry
  10. A wonderful and important speech about liberty, 23 July 2009 — Judge Learned Hand
  11. Why the Turkey is not our national bird, and a reminder that America belongs to us, 26 November 2010
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25 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 July 2012 3:45 am

    I notice that when the Obama administration laughed off the War Powers Resolution, the members of the military who had sworn to “uphold and defend” didn’t, um, uphold and defend after all.

    The medical associations crossed the Rubicon long ago, when they participated in capital punishment. Interrogation and torture procedures used by the CIA were refined by psychologists. It’s saying something indeed for your profession’s ethical standards when “improving on Gestapo techniques” is accepted…

    Like

  2. Pluto permalink
    5 July 2012 11:45 am

    I suspect that the long war against terrorism will allow them to attack/kill/imprison anybody whom they do not share beliefs with. The US military has been recruiting from a smaller and smaller part of the US population for the last 20 years. Furthermore the US military has increasingly turned to Fox news and the like as their primary personal news sources. If and when they turn on the US civilian population it will be because they no long regard these people as part of America, regardless of what the Constitution says.

    In a related note, I seem to recall reading somewhere that the military has requested permission to arm the drones flying over the borders of the US, citing slow response time from the agencies officially tasked with guarding the border. Can you confirm this?

    Like

  3. 5 July 2012 2:57 pm

    “History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance.”
    — James Madison

    “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
    — Letter from James Madison to W.T. Barry (4 August 1822)

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    • 5 July 2012 3:34 pm

      The first quote is misattributed to Madison. It’s in The Story of Our Money by Olive Cushing Dwinell (1946), which an editor mistakenly attributed to Madison. It’s not in any of Madison’s known writings. For details see Wikiquote.

      Also, I added the source of the second Madison.

      Like

  4. James Catfish permalink
    5 July 2012 4:16 pm

    In subtle ways we are starting to resemble Nazi Germany. The press, big business, and government appear to be merging. Truth is no longer relevant.
    The professional military, in my view, has some major drawbacks. The current evaluation and system of promotions gives one pause in expressing options or making suggestions. There are many fine senior Officers and NCO’s, however there are many who follow the political winds to enhance their career, that is their mission. On the other hand, in the present depression, who would put their family at risk?

    Like

    • 5 July 2012 6:33 pm

      Catfish,

      You touch upon something important, but where few will venture. Was Hitler an extraordinary (in a literal sense) event, or an eruption of an endemic illness in western society?

      If the former, Godwin’s rule is normative. We should avoid analogies to Hitler and NAZIs.

      If the latter, then we should worry that “Hitler wasn’t wrong, just early”.

      Hitler did not conquer Germany, and found eager supporters in most of the nations he conquered. Something in his evil found a home in the hearts of many people across Europe — and in America as well (the American equivalent of the NAZI party had 20,000 people at its 1939 convention in NYC). The virus almost certainly lingers in our society, awaiting favorable conditions to re-emerge.

      Comments on this?

      Like

    • 5 July 2012 6:51 pm

      The Right frequently engages in hyperbole that the big government is going to take away our guns, round up all the Christians, oppress whites, etc.

      This is silly – a tyranny doesn’t attain power by taking unpopular positions – it gains power by oppressing disliked minorities.

      Hitler didn’t gain power and popularity by declaring war on blonde people, or Christians – he declared war on the Jews (feeding on the already large anti-semite movement), the disabled (feeding on the also large eugenics movement), and justified his actions with Christian rhetoric.

      Whether or not he actually believed in Christianity is a moot point, all that matters is if he saw it as a useful tool or not, which he clearly did. Hence his successful effort to get the blessing of the Papacy.

      Like

  5. Alex permalink
    5 July 2012 7:59 pm

    Joe,
    Correct, anti-Semitism was in Germany “forever”, but only total state enabled Hitler to wage war on minorities. Before Bismarck … when Jews were prosecuted by one German king they were running to another one. And this way they survived for 10 centuries.
    When Bismarck unified Germany – there were no place in Germany to run. Federal Government was everywhere.

    P.S. Prosecuted minorities?

    Keynes was and Jew and homosexual. And he was more the excited about Hitler. (see below) J.M. Keyne’s Famous Foreword to the 1936 German Edition of the General Theory, posted at The Memory Hole,

    Keynes: “The theory of aggregate production, which is the point of the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire. This is one of the reasons that justifies the fact that I call my theory a general theory.”

    Like

    • 5 July 2012 8:52 pm

      Alex,

      The quote you provide does not remotely show that Keynes “was more the excited about Hitler.” It shows that the laws of economics Keynes describe can be applied by a wide range of political systems. Which is, as he explicitly states, it is a “general theory” of economics. Using your logic, that NAZI Germany could have built an atomic bomb shows that Einstein “was excited about Hitler.”

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    • 5 July 2012 9:31 pm

      My reply to Alex’s comment was insufficiently strong. His comment that Keynes was “excited about Hitler” is totally bogus.

      After Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, Keynes’ mentions of him are almost purely in terms of restrain its military build-up, and then its geographic expansion (“brigandage” in his famous 1936 statement). Keynes opposed appeasement, and favored collective action by nations as the best method to avoid war. History has proven Keynes correct on both, although in this (as in most things) his advice was mostly ignored.

      The brief quote from the Foreward to the German edition of the General Theory was published in late 1936, by which point Keynes had already written extensively about the danger of German military aggression.

      To call Keynes “excited about Hitler” is a slander, probably either from ignorance or politically-motivated (or both).

      Like

  6. Todd Guthrie permalink
    5 July 2012 7:59 pm

    For some reason, your last thought reminded me of a line from The Battle of Algiers, a movie from 1966.

    First, we need to get organized and secure our hideouts, then we can take action. The organization’s getting stronger, but there are still too many drunks, whores, and junkies. People who talk too much. People ready to sell us out.

    We must win them over or eliminate them. We must clean house first, organize the country. Only then we can take on our real enemy.
    You understand, Ali?

    Like

  7. James Catfish permalink
    5 July 2012 8:47 pm

    We are waiting for a leader who will return us to our former wealth, and position in the world. In the view of many, we are a nation in decline. We have been on that road for many years, and now the chickens have come home to roost. My thoughts, though simple, are that it took us a long time to get here, and it will take more than a few years to turn things around. We may be in for tougher times yet.
    Our two party system is badly broken, and if we are in for rougher times, then the door is opening for evil.

    Just to add a thought, Hitler was far right, and Stalin was far left. I have a hard time telling them apart.

    Like

    • 5 July 2012 9:33 pm

      “Hitler was far right, and Stalin was far left. I have a hard time telling them apart.”

      Few, if any, human phenomena can be well-described by only one dimension. Certainly not the political-economic-social dynamics of the NAZI and Russian Communist revolutions. As episodes of mass murder they are similar, but differ VERY greatly otherwise.

      Like

  8. Pluto permalink
    6 July 2012 11:42 am

    I recently read “In the Garden of Beasts” by Eric Larson. The question that haunts Larson is throughout the book is why didn’t somebody stop Hitler in his path to power. His power base ws very fragile, composed mostly of people who underestimated him and hated each other.

    I believe the answer to that question lies in one of the major themes of the FM website, pre-Nazi Germany was a society stressed almost beyond recognition by the death of the old world order and the lack of a new world order. Hitler’s existence and WWII helped bring about the new world order and we permanently placed him in the list of ultra bad guys in part to solidify the nascent new world order. I’m not defending Hitler, just noting that one of the reasons that the new world order came to be accepted was to avoid the rise of future Hitlers.

    Hitler-types can only come to power when the society around them has become so weak that they seem like a reasonable alternative. The rise of Tojo, Mussiolini, and other totalitarian leaders at roughly the same time show that Hitler was not an isolated phenomenon. He was just the worst man in the worst place at the worst time.

    A question that has interested me for some time is how the US managed to avoid electing a weak or unprincipled man in the 1932 election. We certainly were stressed enough to do it at the time and there were no shortage of would-be tyrants. Was it luck or was it something in the system that is now missing that led us to overlook them as candidates?

    Like

    • 6 July 2012 1:30 pm

      Interesting speculation!

      I’ve always found incomprehensible the next phase of Hitler’s rise: his consolidation of power after becoming Chancellor in 1933, and the lack of resistence to his increasingly obvious evil. How did he go from Chancellor to Fuhrer? It wasn’t that powerful a post, and he had no majority in the Reichstag. Why did all of the sectors of society so quickly join the NAZI evil? The Weimar government was not that strong, and the other institutions of German society looked robust in 1932.

      These things are not adequately studied (hardly at all until the last 20 years) because (guessing) the answers are too disturbing. They suggest that NAZI Germany was not sui generis, and it could happen here.

      Like

    • Pluto permalink
      6 July 2012 4:53 pm

      You are right that these things have not been studied in sufficient depth. My speculation is that German society as a whole was so shaken by the increasingly out-of-control events from 1920 to 1934 that they were looking for somebody to take charge and Hitler (having engineered some of the events) managed to be in the right place at the right time (for him, if for nobody else).

      Larson emphasizes that Hitler, outside of his grandstanding speeches, was not very smart or very capable. But Hitler didn’t cause a lot of the evil for which he is blamed; a lot of evil already built into the general society. Larson documents a number of what we would call “flash mobs” today where people would spontaneously start doing terrible things to the person next to them for the flimsiest of excuses, Jews were frequently victims because of rampant anti-semitism but they were not the only targets.

      The world order from 1945 to 2000 emphasized that such behavior is not acceptable. Now governments (sometimes including our own) are testing those boundaries with mixed results.

      Like

    • 6 July 2012 6:29 pm

      “Larson emphasizes that Hitler, outside of his grandstanding speeches, was not very smart or very capable.”

      This is the professors’ view of history, with the delusion that if only a professor had been in Hitler’s shoes then great things would have been done. It is silly. Hitler took a weak nation (Weimar), one of the most damaged by the depression, with almost no military forces — and in 8 years conquered most of Europe. Nobody is that lucky. It shows some combination of smart and capable on a massive scale.

      History suggests that great conquest is mentally destabilizing. Caesar, Napoleon, and Hitler all functioned less well after success; the latter two showed signs of mental dysfunctionality after their almost total victory.

      Like

    • 6 July 2012 11:04 pm

      Other people also worry about the fate of America.

      Weimar America: Four Major Ways We’re Following In Germany’s Fascist Footsteps“, Robert Cruickshank, AlterNet, 5 July 2012 — “What happens when a mature industrial nation turns its back on democracy and lets its right-wing elite destroy the middle class? We’ve seen this movie before.”

      Like

  9. 6 July 2012 11:10 pm

    Two articles by people who spent July 4th warning us about the perilous state of the Republic.

    (1) “America: Drifting Towards the End of the Republic, With an Entertained Citizenry“, Steven Strauss, Huffington Post, 4 July 2012 — Opening:

    Our political debates reflect little interest in facts and nuanced discussion — soundbites reign supreme. The fault’s not with our politicians, however; it’s with us. Politicians (e.g., Mitt Romney, President Obama, etc.) don’t deal with reality because citizens prefer politics as entertainment and theater. If we’re the generation that loses our republic, the epitaph should read: “American Republic, Killed by the Internet and Cable TV.”

    No prior generation of Americans has had such convenient/free access to high quality information. This should be democracy’s Golden Age. Paradoxically, the ease with which citizens stay informed — is destroying the foundations of our republic. If this seems counter-intuitive, read on.

    (2) “Can Americans Escape the Deception?“, Paul Craig Roberts (economist), 4 July 2012 — Opening:

    Hot Air Day is upon us. On July 4 hot air will spew forth all over the country as dignitaries deliver homilies to our “freedom and democracy” and praise “our brave troops” who are protecting our freedom by “killing them over there before they come over here.” Not a single one of these speeches will contain one word of truth. No speaker will lament the death of the US Constitution or urge his audience to action to restore the only document that protects their liberty.

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  10. Maurice Brown permalink
    7 July 2012 12:38 am

    In July 2012, it’s as if we are sleep-walking down to our own destruction.

    The world’s economies are in steep decline; American politics are grid-locked; the Courts are making laws; the US is mired in endless unwinnsble wars; the People are powerless.

    QUESTION: What constitutional remedies are there to break out of this death spiral, in time to save us?

    Like

  11. Thomas More permalink
    7 July 2012 2:00 am

    James Catfish remarks “In subtle ways we are beginning to resemble Nazi Germany.” The real parallel, I believe, is with the former Soviet Union.

    Nietzsche wrote “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.” What seems to have happened is that America pitted itself against the Soviet Union so ferociously, for so long, that over the course of the Cold War we eventually morphed into the Soviet Union — albeit an inverted mirror-image form of the Soviet Union.

    Consider the parallels: the USSR held elections, but the results never changed its policies. (Nazi Germany never maintained any pretense that free elections could change the leadership of the Reich: indeed, they held no elections.) Dissent was ostensibly encouraged but in practice brutally repressed, and dissenters found themselves unable to get jobs or make their way in Soviet society. (Dissent was never even given lip service as a value in Nazi Germany, whereas in the USSR their constitution talks in glowing terms of individual freedom.) The press was allegedly free but in fact tightly controlled by the ruling elites. (This is the one real parallel with Nazi Germany.) Most of the official statistics were distortions or outright lies. (Consider the endless gusher of cheery stats from various sources assuring us that life keeps getting better and better, while everyone recognizes that out here in the real world, Americans are living much worse than an equivalent family did in 1970.) Soviet society was massively militarized, with the military in effect controlling everything in society, from foreign policy to the national budget. (Between 1932 and 1940 Nazi Germany built lots of superb infrastructure that actually worked, unlike Shithole America over the psat 30 years.) In the USSR roads and buildings were allowed to crumble while endless gushers of money were squandered on gigantic superweapons of no conceivable use in the real world. (The Nazis built superweapons that actually worked — V1 and V2 rockets and jets. By contrast, Shithole America’s superweapons don’t work at all: the Osprey tilt-rotor helicopter, the absurd hafnium bomb, the never-ending yet never-actually-operable antiballistic missile program, and crackpot nonsense like airborne 707-carried laser death rays.) Despite a gigantic military, the Soviet Union proved unable to defeat a ragtag band of insurgents in Afghanistan and eventually left in humiliated defeat. (Contrary to Shithole America, the Nazis actually had a formidable war machine — it nearly succeeded in conquering the world, and did conquer Europe. America, by contrast, can’t even manage to defeat a bunch of 15-year-old barefoot children who are armed with bolt-action rifles in one of the world’s poorest countries.)

    I suspect Shithole America, having now degenerated into a third-world police state with a military less impressive than the Tijuana police force and a ruling oligarchy more corrupt and more clueless than Mexico’s, will suffer the same fate the Soviet Union: political sclerosis and Alzheimers, economic vapor lock, and eventual senescence. When Shithole America’s military-police-surveillance-prison-terror complex finally comes apart and disintegrates because of its massive inability to accomplish anything and its grotesquely counterproductive poisoning of everything in society from the rule of law to civil society to basic industries (the prison-industrial complex is a complete perversion of the capitalist system and ultimately unworkable, since it is a negative-sum system that renders prison inmates unemployable and sink capital into unproductive prisons, rather than a positive-sum system like Schumpeterian creative destruction), we will probably go the same route of the former USSR. Namely, Shithole America will wind up ruled by third-rate gangsters who make their money by living off the corpse of now-defunct former industries.

    In today’s USSR, gangsters make their money by selling Soviet weaponry on the black market and pimping out the daughters of former Soviet factory workers who have become homeless and desperate for cash. They strip copper wiring from buildings and sell it for scrap, and peddle the country’s patrimony in oil and gold and rare minerals for pennies. After Shithole America descends into its final senescence (not bankruptcy, since we issue our own currency and it’s still the world’s reserve currency), we will probably wind up ruled by gangsters who sell off white elephants like U.S. nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers and pimp out the daughters of former Apple and IBM engineers who have become homeless and desperate for cash. Indeed, with the ascendency of thugs like Jamie Dimon, we arguably are today ruled by third-rate gangsters. We can likewise look forward to seeing America’s patrimony in patents and world-class universities being sold off for a pittance — perhaps a billionaire sheikh will buy Harvard for the priviliege of turning into a moslem religious propaganda mill. Or possibly a billionaire Chinese merchant will purchase the Institute for Advanced Study and turn it into an institute for the study of feng shui.

    Such is the fate of nations which squander their patrimony and abandon the rule of law and democracy in favor of the pursuit of quick wealth and dreams of global conquest.

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