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The Union Imperfect

MinuteManStatue_Muffet-Flickr

[photo: Minute Man statue by Muffet via Flickr]

Like Marcy, I find myself pondering today the Declaration of Independence as well as the subsequent system of government set in motion with publication of this influential document.

So much of what our founding fathers protested about the monarchy was the unilateral nature of governance. The signatories quite literally signed their death warrants as they rejected the power of the British crown to govern their lives, so serious were they about the need for self-rule with representation, and oversight to prevent abuses.

Yet here we are, 237 years later, moving toward a unicameral government, witnessing the slow-moving collapse of a democratic republic for which the earliest Americans gave both blood and treasure.

Increasing in number under the last several presidents, the White House has issued classified or secret executive orders and findings—in effect creating law without true oversight by the only body charged with lawmaking, and/or without restraint by the judiciary responsible for ensuring government powers are confined within the limits established by the Constitution.

Congress has failed to adequately exercise its oversight powers to constrain the White House’s execution of laws and and unilateral orders, while permitting departmental employees to lie and misrepresent actions carried out at the orders of the President or subordinate functions.

Congress’s failure to take adequate action with regard to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s misrepresentations is but one example. Were the three branches of government truly distinct and acting according their purview, Congress would have demanded an immediate investigation into Clapper’s activities as well as the intelligence functions he oversees, punishing Clapper as appropriate for misleading the people through their representatives.

The judiciary as the third branch has become a rubber stamp function of the plutocracy, set in place by the über-wealthy who co-opted members of Congress with campaign donations, or media sufficient to bully members of Congress to do their bidding. The Court’s composition does not represent the American public, interpreting laws through a perspective shaped and dominated by white male privilege. Read more

Cowboys, T. Jeff’s Declaration, Bond Bitchez and Teh Porn Stash

Hi there buckaroos and buckarettes. Sometimes a man has gots to do what a man has gots to do. Now is one of those times. Marcy up and penned this most awesome cutting, biting, truth to power wonderful post. And then she went and buggered the pooch with a sandpapered, plain vanilla, non confrontational milquetoast title.

Bleeeccchhh.

Responsible blog wingman and all that I am, I immediately pointed out the title should be “The Declaration of Independence, Obama’s Presidential Kill Cards and the Porn Stash”. Same old story; same old song and dance. Nobody ever listens to good old bmaz. Instead we went with the Wolf Blitzer/Jonas Brothers/Disney Lite title of “Keep Your Declaration of Independence Right Next to Your Assassination Cards”.

Yawn.

Come on, you just know that Michael Leiter, the designated human kill switch of the Obama Administration, keeps those two critical reference materials – the Declaration of Independence and the US Government’s deck of snuff cards – in the safest, most discreet and yet accessible, location to his bedroom. You know, right where he keeps his porn stash.

Now what is really odd about this report, and does not register at first blush, is that Leiter has mentally honed in and lasered his focus on the Declaration of Independence rather than the Constitution. Seriously; think about it. It is an incredibly telling difference.

Here is the opening text of the aggressive and intentionally somewhat in your face Declaration of Independence, the forward cry and belligerent marking of territory by a new nation staking its claim in the world:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Then ponder the respectful, moral and enlightened reach of the Preamble to the Constitution, the hallowed document that Leiter and Obama ought to be paying attention to when deciding to remotely snuff human lives (including, by all reports, those of American citizens) without the protection of due process and by the cold mechanical death by drone:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Declaration is an affirmative statement of manifest authority; the Constitution is a self imposed restriction of manifest authority and protection of due process in the face of it. So, there are a lot of issues with this whole gig surrounding Leiter and his nighttime is the right time to kill thing. And people were worried about Hillary getting a 3 am call; seems all so quaint now.

Oh, and by the way, T. Jeff it has now been concluded made a mistake in drafting the Declaration of Independence, and had it even more authoritarian than anybody ever knew:

Preservation scientists at the Library of Congress have discovered that Thomas Jefferson, even in the act of declaring independence from England, had trouble breaking free from monarchial rule.

In an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote the word “subjects,” when he referred to the American public. He then erased that word and replaced it with “citizens,” a term he used frequently throughout the final draft.

The Library released news of the struck word for the first time on Friday.

Jeebus, even dead presidents and founders are going rogue.

The other quite random thought I cannot pry from my beady little mind is the slathering coverage of the super hot, most awesomest, Redhead Rooskie Spy Babe, Anna Chapman. At first I could not figure out the singular fascination of the press with this chick who is being billed as the new “Bond Babe”.

Then it dawned on me. Chapman is hot, red, sultry and enticing. And she looks eerily like a young and come hither Maureen Dowd. Come on, you just know Howie Kurtz and his penis er the media is thinking that.

Well, that is yer friendly Friday Night Emptywheel Trash Talk. New and improved with no sports! Eh, it will be Favre season soon enough, so do not despair. Tonight’s musical interlude is a little slice of the old west I know and love. Actually, I like both kinds of music, country and western. The incomparable Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy with The Cowboy Song. Oh, and the Boys Are Back.

Happy trails pardners!

Keep Your Declaration of Independence Right Next to Your Assassination Cards

Call me crazy, but this is probably not exactly the kind of treatment Thomas Jefferson was thinking the Declaration of Independence would receive 234 years after he wrote it.

Many nights an item prompts a call to wake the NCTC director, Michael Leiter, 41, the junior member of the nighthawks. He displays a copy of the Declaration of Independence, next to a deck of baseball-style cards of high-value terrorist targets: “I keep the ones who are dead on top. It’s a little macabre, but that’s the world we live in.” When the NCTC calls in the middle of the night, he is often half-awake.

Among those cards, after all, is probably the one that signifies that the President has approved, with no due process, an order to assassinate US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. That’s the kind of thing that Jefferson objected to when he called the following “Despotism”:

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

[snip]

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

[snip]

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

[snip]

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

While I’m making wildarsed Fourth of July guesses, let me also suggest that this kind of security porn–a 24-style terror play in 9 acts–is probably not exactly what Thomas Jefferson imagined as the role of the free press when he so furiously defended it.