Tag Archives: constitution

Celebrate what happened one year ago. It’s the birthday of a New America!

Summary:  Exactly one year ago Glenn Greenwald published the first of Snowden’s revelations. Two days later I forecast that our response to these momentous disclosures would be nothing. That our passivity would mark the birthday of the New America, and the death of the Second Republic (under the Constitution). Today I add this to the successful predictions page. It’s reposted below, as worth reading today as then (more so now, since we know so much more about the government’s activities than we did a year ag0)

As I said then: Our children are the victims. Powerful elites are the agents. We are the cause. This is now obvious to any who choose to see. 4 July 1776 was the birthday of the America-that-once-was, start of the successful revolution. 5 July 2913 was the birthday of the New America, start of the failed first reform movement!

Watching the little people

—– Reposted from 5 July 2013, birthday of our New America —–

This week we learned more about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance. Do not see this as an event, but as a step in a process. Slowly we are broken to accept a harness designed by our ruling elites, administered by their agents in the government.  Slowly since WWII, more quickly since 9-11, the government has extended its supervision over us. Not to control our daily acts — as in 1984 (the 1% doesn’t care what the proles do after work) — but to limit our political activities. Limit our ability to run the Republic.

The changes come slowly. It’s not like a frog being boiled, because frogs are smart and jump out of the pot. More like bondage porn, where a sub slowly surrenders to domination by the will of another. We are surrendering responsibility, the burden of self-government.

We cannot admit the harsh truth, and so take comfort in lies, myths, and amnesia.

We hope this will save us from the shadowy threat of jihadists – who one day over a decade ago killed a fraction of those who die each year in traffic accidents, or suicide by guns, or from other causes we cannot bother to address because we spend so much on security (internal and external, formerly known as police and defense). We give up so much in fear of an organization which probably no longer exists in significant form, bequeathing their name to nationalistic movements who fight us because we go to their lands and fight them.

We yield to the government because we believe that they — and our ruling elites — are too strong. We let the democratic machinery of the Republic lie unused because we believe that resistance is futile.

In fact we yield because it is easier for us. More comfortable.

What about all the bold noise in the newspapers, on the internet?

Yes, we boldly write and speak.  As we boldly protested when we learned of the previous set of outrages. And the ones before that. As we will for the next one.  And the next one.

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Why do we pledge allegiance to a flag, ignoring the Founders’ instructions?

Summary:  We need to return to basics in order to reform America. Devising complex technocratic solutions are a snare and dead end, building castles in the sky while the 1% gain strength.  We need to return to the fundamentals of the American project, both the symbolic and conceptual designs. Today we look at the Pledge, another in a series searching for a path to a better future for America.

Flag and Eagle

Swear allegiance to the flag.
The bird is dumb, too.

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Oaths were not purpos’d, more than law,
To keep the Good and Just in awe,
But to confine the Bad and Sinful,
Like mortal cattle in a penfold.

— Samuel Butler’s “Hudibras”, Part II, Canto II (1664)

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This is great: Article II Section 1 of the Constitution:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

In the fires of the Civil War a more detailed oath was forged, passed on 13 May 1884, now taken by all civil, military, and judicial officials excerpt the President. This is perfect:

I do solemnly swear 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.

This oath points to our duty under the founding document. The Tea Party was exactly right that we have lost sight of our system as it was, and forgotten how it should work. Too bad they’re interested in only fragments of the Constitution, and despise some of its principles (i.e., they’re part of the problem, not the solution).

As the United States evolved in the Gilded Age, with rising inequality at home and imperial aspirations abroad, our rulers devised an oath suitable for peasants.  This was written by Francis Bellamy (socialist and Baptist minister) in 1892, formally adopted by Congress in 1942, and revised four times since then. The Founders are appalled by this.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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About the crisis: The GOP is right. So is Obama. That’s why it’s a crisis.

Summary:  We can learn lost lessons about our government from the debt crisis. Much of what’s said in the media is wrong, chaff thrown to confuse us. Here are some simple facts about the crisis. Both sides are right. If they cannot agree, there is a simple but perilous solution. It has worked before and will work again — but must not be overused. This is the third in a four part series.
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Traitor

Let’s not overreact

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Contents

  1. Introduction: our problem
  2. The Republicans are correct
  3. The President’s Options
  4. The 14th Amendment
  5. Other posts in this series
  6. For More Information

(1)  Introduction: our problem

The Republicans in Congress are using their leverage to change ObamaCare, entitlement spending, and tax policy. They are holding government spending hostage, and threatening to force the government to default on its debt.  The slowdown (not a shutdown) is depressing the economy and harming a large number of Americans.  Unless Congress acts, sometime after October 17 the Federal government will default on its bonds.

(2)  The Republicans are correct

Many of us have forgotten the basics of our system.

  • Congress and Presidents have equal legitimacy as elected representatives of the people.
  • Control of spending is among the greatest powers of the legislature, and has been a powerful tool to shift power from Kings to the people.
  • Therefore the House has both history and law on their side in this battle with President Obama.

Democrats argue that Washington’s rules of polite conduct trump law and logic, as if conflicts about high public policy should be run like Sunday afternoon monopoly games — where consulting the actual rules is a no-no.

For details see this excerpt from “Government shutdowns are the worst kind of budgetary reversion, except for all the rest“, Gary Cox (Professor of Political Science, Stanford), blog of the Washington Post, 3 October 2013:

Who came up with the idea that budgets should be delayed as a means to force the executive to adopt policies it doesn’t want to?

The idea goes back to England’s Glorious Revolution, where MPs fought hard to put the Crown on a short financial leash, so that they could control Crown officials’ actions. Although they did not use the term, English arguments about what would give Parliament bargaining leverage vis-à-vis the Crown hinged on the budgetary reversion.  Because expenditure authority would lapse every year, forcing portions of the government to “shut down” in contemporary American parlance, parliamentarians were assured the Crown would seek a new budget every year — whereupon they could bargain for attainment of their various goals.

As James Madison put it, “This power over the purse may…be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

… when given the power a shutdown reversion confers, the “immediate representatives of the people” have, in country after country, done precisely the sort of thing that the House Republicans are now doing. They have sought to force the executive to adopt “just and salutary” measures, using the threat of a government shutdown. Examples include the Australian episode noted by Max Fisher, Chile before and after its civil war of 1891, and various European countries that subsequently sought to create what was dubbed parliamentarisme rationalisé in the interwar period.

… There are two and only two institutional reforms that can reliably avoid the bargaining failures that lead to shutdowns. … {see the article for more}

(3) The President’s options

President Obama’s actions to protect the United States in response to Congress must conform to the following three laws:

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The NSA news might be a birthday for the New America!

Summary:  These are special days! The New America approaches as the Second Republic (under the Constitution) dies.  Our children are the victims. Powerful elites are the agents. We are the cause. Recent events show this to any who choose to see.

Watching the little people

Contents

  1. The revelations
  2. We squawk loudly, but to what effect?
  3. Reform, starting when?
  4. Who can we count on?
  5. Always in motion is the future
  6. More Information about the surveillance state
  7. Other posts, what you need know to see our future

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(1)  The revelations

This week we learned more about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance. Do not see this as an event, but as a step in a process. Slowly we are broken to accept a harness designed by our ruling elites, administered by their agents — the government.  Slowly since WWII, more quickly since 9-11, the government has extended its supervision over us. Not to control our daily acts — as in 1984 — but to limit our activities. Limit our ability to manage our own affairs.

The changes come slowly. Not like a frog being boiled, because frogs are smart and jump out of the pot. More like bondage porn, where a sub slowly surrenders to the domination by the will of another. Surrendering responsibility, the burden of self-government.

We cannot admit the harsh truth, and so take comfort in lies.

We yield to the government to save us from the shadowy threat of jihadists – who one day over a decade ago killed a fraction of those who die each year in traffic accidents, or suicide by guns, or from other causes we cannot bother to address because we spend so much on security (internal and external, formerly known as police and defense). We yield to fear of an organization which probably no longer exists in significant form (bequeathing their name to nationalistic movements who fight us because we go to their lands and fight them).

We yield to the government because they — and our ruling elites — are too strong. We let the democratic machinery of the Republic lie unused because we know that resistance is futile.

In fact we yield because it is easier for us. More comfortable.

(2)  We squawk loudly, but to what effect?

Yes, we boldly write and speak.  As we did when we learned of the previous set of outrages. The the ones before that. As we will for the next one.  And the next one.

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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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On this important date let’s remember the past and look forward to our future

Summary:  On this day in 1781 the America Republic was born in the midst of war. Here we review its evolution, and the latest stage — which looks like the largest step yet. At some point incremental steps create something new, something different.

Science Fiction Shows a Possible Future for America

“So this is how liberty dies. To thunderous applause.”
— Queen Padme in Revenge of the Sith (2005)

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Evolution of the American Republic

On this day in 1781  the Republic version 1.0 was born, as Maryland ratified the Articles of Confederation, making it the basis of the revolutionary government.

On 21 June 1788 version 2.0 of the Republic was born, as New Hampshire ratified the Constitution — replacing the Articles (in defiance of the Articles provisions for amendment).

On 9 April 1865 General Lee surrendered, ending the 4 year long birth throes of version 2.1 of the Republic.

On 2 September 1945 the Empire of Japan surrendered, ending the 12 year long birth throes of version 2.2 of the Republic.

On 11 September 2011 al Qaeda attacked America, giving Bush Jr the opportunity to initiate massive changes in US domestic and foreign policy. Ratified and expanded by Obama, these radically changed the course of America’s evolution from that of version 2.0. As with the previous transitions, the magnitude of this change will become obvious only slowly. This might be the largest transformation of all. My guess is that the result will be version 3.0 — a New America.

Versions 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1 had highly limited franchises — limiting the vote by property, race, and gender. Version 3.0 might also be a limited democracy. Perhaps very limited, such as a plutocracy or a high-tech version of a elite-controlled society.

The builders of the New America, and the applause

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Obama repeals Magna Carta, asserting powers our forefathers denied to Kings

Summary:  The Republic  is at war against an adaptive foe that seeks its destruction. Not al Qaeda, which might no longer exist in meaningful form, but internal foes seeking its overthrow. That they’re moving incrementally, small steps slowly growing larger with each success, only masks the boldness of their goals. It’s the quiet coup. Here we look at the latest chapter in the war, the most recent rip torn in the Constitution.

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
— Written by Benjamin Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its “Reply to the Governor” (11 November 1755).

20130207-1984

As the America-that-Once-Was evolves into the quite different New America, the identity of those responsible becomes increasingly clear.  It’s us. Our disinterest in working the Founders’ machinery of self-government. Our passive acceptance of Empire and plutocracy. Saddest of all is our abandonment of America’s ideals, the end point of a thousand year-long struggle.

These things are all seen in our reaction to President Obama’s white paper granting himself powers not seen in Anglo-American history since the Stuart Kings. Limiting the Monarchs’ right of arbitrary arrest and punishment of their subjects took 450 years, from the first tentative agreement in Magna Carta (1215) to its achievement in the English Civil War (1641-1662).  Now, with our complaisance, Presidents Bush Jr and Obama have erased much of that progress.

Two provisions of Magna Carta deserve our attention today, a gift to us from the Barons of 13th century England.

38.  No bailiff for the future shall, upon his own unsupported complaint, put anyone to his “law”, without credible witnesses brought for this purposes.  {This was replaced by improved legislation in 1863}

39.  No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised {deprived of land} or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.  {This remains in force for the people of England, but no longer in the USA}

Our ancestors spent much blood, sweat, and tears between that day at Runnymede and the meeting in 1878 at Philadelphia.  The liberties provided by the Constitution were won over those 30 generations, by the unruly Saxons and Normans of Medieval England — and the Founders, jealous of their liberties and willing to fight for them.  In the decade since 9-11 we’ve thoughtlessly thrown away political structures that took centuries to build.

The Constitution is just a “paper bullet of the brain”, with no power except to the degree it lives in our hearts.  That love appears to have died.

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