This was the week that was in the death of the Constitution

Summary: What a wonderful week, bringing to even the most obtuse of Americans unmistakable evidence of our government’s growing power. These incidents are insignificant in themselves, more of the endless scandals that titillated members of America’s outer  party (the proles don’t care about such things; the inner party knows their irrelevance). But they might give small pushes to help a few see the true state of America.

(1) The Tea Party discovered that the government will investigate even white conservatives! Watch their anti-reality screens glow as they deflect all evidence that it was routine low-level actions, not planned attack by the Black Pretender in the White House.

(2) Journalists discovered that the government has no friends, only subjects and targets. Even their supine support of the government — concealing secrets, spinning stories to their benefit, denying a voice to its opponents — gives them no immunity from government surveillance. Legal surveillance, due to the post-9/11 shredding of the 4th Amendment.

(3) During the five years posting warnings on the FM website, I have received many forms of replies saying Don’t worry; all is well. None say it in as few words as this tweet, which should be carved on the eventual memorial to the late great Constitution:

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You placed the burden on active citizenship; but individuals may have little effect. Republic endures unbroken.

We cannot know what the author meant, but the words probably speak for the majority of Americans today. The words echo their feeling of powerlessness (their disinterest in collective action) plus a delusional unwillingness to see the results of our passivity.

Twitter is a direct line into the thought-stream of America, the neurons freely chatting with one another. Always interesting, often depressing, sometimes terrifyingly depressing.

This post is a follow-up to:

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It is not too late. We need not disappoint them:

By Junius Brutus Stearns (1856)

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14 thoughts on “This was the week that was in the death of the Constitution

  1. I was chatting online to a guy yesterday about gun control. He was a committed gun owner, and as such didn’t believe in gun control. He believed that guns were the final defense against an oppressive and incompetent government. He was an ex marine who loved and despised his country in almost equal measure. Because of this issue, among others, he believed that America need a reset, and that after a reset only those who had served would be allowed to stand for office.
    I asked him if he was worried about the massive increase in federal power since 9-11, he didn’t seem to think it was an issue, as it was aimed against the enemy. He saw gun control as aimed against the good guys, and therefore a true example of government tyranny.

    There are people from all over the political spectrum who know instinctively that there are deep and fundamental shifts occurring in the distribution of power, but there is little agreement on the causes or the possible solutions. Without agreement the disaffected can be easily played off against each other over a bunch of minor issues (gun control ect).

    For the record gun ownership is mostly glorified air-soft, pew pew pew.
    I always thought the well regulated militia was the key part of the second amendment. In a world without the threat of invasion, or Indian attack, the right to bear arms part is of secondary importance. But the establishment of active grassroots citizens groups, the well regulated militia, this could be of the utmost importance in defending the core values of the Republic.
    The ACLU is a good example of what I think we should be aiming for, as a defense against tyranny its a better bet than than a rifle any day.

    It is curious that the emphasis is always on the fun part, owning and shooting guns, but rarely on the hard part, the maintaining a well organised and regulated militia. There seems to be the unspoken assumption that if the militia was really needed it would spring into self organizing existence, but in that case the well organized and regulated bit will be a lottery.

  2. From a son of the people who were here when Columbus stumbled upon this continent;

    The USA has been a criminal enterprise by an Oligarchy from the very beginning and
    your ‘constitution’ (obviously a document of convenience) died in 1835 when Andrew Jackson ignored “Article 6 All treaties are supreme law”—-as well as Article 3 in regards to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction (as well as its power of enforcement)————–and the USA has been losing ground since then to become THE most dangerous and criminal nation in the history of humanity.

    Future historians will have no other negative example to refer to in such terms; and humanity could not possibly serve itself such another terrible example.

    But then; “If ya know what not to do, you’ve got half the problems solved”…………

    1. “THE most dangerous and criminal nation in the history of humanity”

      Thank you for commenting. It’s always interesting to hear from Crazyville.

    2. He’s not necessarily wrong.

      If we talk scale alone – the United States has killed roughly 8 million people in the last 50 years – while not the highest death toll ever (Both China and the British Empire killed more, just off the top of my head), its still a very respectable number.

      Also, its easily argued that we are the most powerful nation that has ever existed, with more influence in more countries than anyone before us. Unfortunately, we very rarely use that power for good.

      Thirdly, if we took a worldwide poll right now – who would be #1 on most people’s shit list?

      We can argue that other countries were “more evil” than us – but of course none of the Hitlers or Stalins of the past had the power and influence we have today.

      And finally – to invoke Godwin’s Law, morally speaking – what’s the difference between Hitler (who killed for money and power), and Bush and Obama (who also kill/killed for money and power) -a this point, do the exact statistics really matter?

    3. I find that any time someone says “the most [something] in the history of humanity”, it is probably a subjective view and should be taken with a grain of salt.

    4. Good point, worth remembering!

      Yet the modern era has seen so many unique events, not all technological. The near-total abolition of slavery, for example.

      Some are social, but made more feasible by technology. Such as the improved status of women — now superior to men in many ways in the US (eg, life expectancy, wealth) and growing more so (higher and rapidly growing more so educational attainment).

      And all the “firsts” made possible by technology. Our largest ever population, best ever infant mortality, longest lifetime (with its historically e tea ordinary age distribution).

      We live in a age of marvels.

  3. So the IRS targeting a specific political faction is no big deal but the administration tapping journalists phones is a shredding of the constitution? You have no idea how insufferable you’ve become lately. 4 year subscriber gone.

    I can predict your reply:

    Another out of touch soul who does not see the ONE TRUTH ONLY KNOWN TO ME. something about OODA loops, reality, how you are incapable of bias, see I can hold 2 conflicting ideas!, blah, blah.

    1. (1) “So the IRS targeting a specific political faction is no big deal”

      I suggest you re-read the news accounts, perhaps Reuters or AP (not Fox). You appear to have little grasp of the IRS history of such investigations — or the specifics of this case.

      (2) “You have no idea how insufferable you’ve become lately. 4 year subscriber gone”

      I can see your frustration. All those facts contradicting your world view. The cognitive dissonance must be painful.

      (3) “Another out of touch soul who does not see the ONE TRUTH ONLY KNOWN TO ME.”

      It’s brought you to a delusional state. Of the 30,000 comments on this site, I have replied to the majority of them. Never have I said anything so daft. The standard reply is with facts, often with links to additional information.

      (4) “I can predict your reply”

      Yes you can. But not accurately.

      I could reply with additional data about the IRS and AP incidents. But it’s all been repeatedly stated in news accounts, and you have not absorbed them. So I fear one more repetition would be in vain.

      You might use Google News to learn more…

      • How often has the IRS been used to investigate political groups during the past 50 years?
      • How well do charitable groups comply with IRS rules regarding political activity?
      • At what level was the Tea Party investigation conducted (local office or HQ)?
      • What was the response of HQ?
      • What were the consequences to the Tea Party groups? Did any lest heir tax exempt status? Should any have lost it due to prohibited partisan activity?

      Please report back to us, esp if this has changed your views.

    2. Here’s a good place to start, with some useful background to the IRS-Tea Party scandal.

      How the IRS’s Nonprofit Division Got So Dysfunctional“, ProPublica, 17 May 2013 — Opening:

      The IRS division responsible for flagging Tea Party groups has long been an agency afterthought, beset by mismanagement, financial constraints and an unwillingness to spell out just what it expects from social welfare nonprofits, former officials and experts say.

      The controversy that erupted in the past week, leading to the ousting of the acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner, an investigation by the FBI, and congressional hearings that kicked off Friday, comes against a backdrop of dysfunction brewing for years.

      Moves launched in the 1990s were designed to streamline the tax agency and make it more efficient. But they had unintended consequences for the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division.

      Checks and balances once in place were taken away. Guidance frequently published by the IRS and closely read by tax lawyers and nonprofits disappeared. Even as political activity by social welfare nonprofits exploded in recent election cycles, repeated requests for the IRS to clarify exactly what was permitted for the secretly funded groups were met, at least publicly, with silence.

      All this combined to create an isolated office in Cincinnati, plagued by what an inspector general this week described as “insufficient oversight,” of fewer than 200 low-level employees responsible for reviewing more than 60,000 nonprofit applications a year.

      In the end, this contributed to what everyone from Republican lawmakers to the president says was a major mistake: The decision by the Ohio unit to flag for further review applications from groups with “Tea Party” and similar labels.

    3. You can quibble about the specifics of Chris’ IRS remarks — I don’t necessarily agree with him — but on the larger point I think he’s essentially correct. In fact his concluding paragraph is a very nice example of succinct accuracy.

      I’ve said much the same thing myself: (Remember a little while ago when you guys decided to shut down comments so you could have a good pout?) You seem to fancy yourself some kind of seer, with a divine mission to enlighten the rubes. And then you scratch your head when the rubes wander away, or worse, tell you how your schtick plays.

      Look at this (very very typical, for you) toss-off line:

      “(2) ‘You have no idea how insufferable you’ve become lately. 4 year subscriber gone’

      I can see your frustration. All those facts contradicting your world view. The cognitive dissonance must be painful.”

      Precisely which “facts” did **you** introduce into the dialog? I don’t see them. (I must have a defective OODA loop…) Who do **you** know who could walk away from an exchange like that without muttering “I’ll never waste time on that self-satsfied prick again”.

  4. A few comments, I read the site pretty often.
    1. IRS, it is a scandal, at least for now. And, it is troubling. FM, I think you should be more worried – only because as of now, it appears the IRS officials that have spoken to Congress have been either caught in lies or in “no I wasn’t lying but yes the information I gave was wrong”. Add to that reports that “everything comes from the top” and there’s reason to worry and reason to keep investigating. It may turn out to fit what you’ve portrayed above. Maybe not. I don’t think there’s any way to tell at this moment. A lot of people thought Watergate was isolated as well. Eventually the dam breaks, or the waters recede. We’ll see how this plays out.
    2. AP issue is perhaps less chilling. Here’s why. The AP story could have been broken by DOJ long ago, publicly. That would have been much more chilling to speech and to sources cooperating. If the government was more ‘in your face’ about it, announcing the searches of records etc, at the time collected, sources would have disappeared immediately and all news agencies would have had a very difficult time getting them back. As it is, likely the AP, ACLU and others will raise hell, the DOJ will mea culpa, and sources will slowly get comfortable again. So, that means either the DOJ was earnestly looking for information leaks, trying to be covert about it to catch the person(s). The counter is possible but less likely: that the DOJ and perhaps others above, were doing this secretively and rather broadly to collect information for use later, such as in a future crisis or future election, so they could play a trump card so to speak. It’s possible. However, I think it’s most likely they were actually looking for a leak and decided to push the envelope to see what may turn up. Either way, I think they were wrong in how they went about it. Combined with the IRS deal and you certainly have reasons to worry.
    3. Benghazi. This stinks. Holder keeps saying “I don’t know” in regard to the AP story (and Fast and Furious too), and the President is saying “I don’t know, I didn’t know, I found out when you did” with Benghazi. You can’t tell any sane individual that our top leaders “don’t know” what’s going on when sovereign US territory is attacked, a diplomatic official is killed, and other Americans are killed as well.
    4. The story few people are paying attention to, although I think FM already knows this. The military is in trouble. First, the lower and mid-level ranks have done pretty well since 2001. The senior ranks, not so much. Scandal after scandal, multiple ethics violations, and a military justice system that is being peeled like an onion right now, showing its inadequacy. Everything in the military is about the commanders. We have billions that have been lost, vanished, in our war efforts. Commanders have not been fired. There was a 4-star that was reduced to 3-stars and retired. That was for taking vacations on the tax payer dime. If he had been an E8 or O2, he would have done time. But the oversight of those billions, well no one is paying a price. The rock star of the GWOT and CIA director turned out to have an affair. Sexual assault case handling has continually brought the ire from Congress with two sexual assault prevention officers now either arrested or being investigated for….sexual assault. Now the military wants to downsize and who’ll be making the decisions on how to downsize? The same commanders that have tarnished the notion of the military as an institution of high integrity. As they gut the military over the next 5 to 10 years, how could anyone have confidence in the product these leaders will leave behind? As you’ll note, despite a massive and befuddling excess of O-7+ in uniform, there’s no great plan to start the cull at the top. Surprise surprise.
    5. Finally, Armed Service Cmtes are taking aim at military justice and it would appear the nations top legal eagles will be doing the same. I don’t want to direct to another site, but looking at some supreme court cases there is currently one where the argument is being created that would allow a data mining of military records to find people that may have somehow gotten away with sexual assault in the military. This plan would, after they leave the military, throw them into some sort of tribunal to civilly convict them. Not all crimes, not all felonies, just sexual assault. It smells of selective prosecution polluted by political motives which will inevitably taint the proceedings and produce nothing close to fair and impartial proceedings.

    All in all, there are legitimate reasons to worry, and I think they may be more widespread than the current discussion would indicate.

    1. The rock star of the GWOT and CIA director turned out to have an affair……

      I find it unusually gratifying that a man who was looking forward to eavesdropping on me “through my dishwasher”…was tripped up by careless e-mail.

      God does have a sense of humor.

  5. The actual scandals demonstrate fundamental problems in how the government operates, yet much of the coverage has drifted toward the political game instead. The media largely co-operates, because it’s easier to play the game and secure eyeballs than ask difficult questions and risk driving them away. It’s another aspect of the Americans can’t/won’t self-govern problem that Fabius so often identifies.

    In the case of Benghazi, there are questions about the hows and whys of embassy security in dangerous nations, which has been mostly ignored in favor of the political blame-storming of who knew what when. In the case of the IRS, there’s the larger problem of social welfare non-profits performing political activities. In the case of the AP investigations, the larger story here is one of how government leaks like a sieve, yet typically only pursues action against whistle-blowers who leak embarrassing information.

    In each case the political and media game largely obscures the actual problem, preventing it from being addressed and solved. Instead of solutions we receive political theater and continued failings.

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