Thursday, June 20, 2013

Another Twerp Who Doesn't Get It: Michael Lind

"In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover and wickedness insensibly open." - Thomas Jefferson, in 'Notes on Virginia'.

"Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for the purpose of a temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."  - Benjamin Franklin

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. AND TO RENDER THEM SAFE, THEIR MINDS MUST BE IMPROVED." - Thomas Jefferson, 'Notes on Virginia'.

Once again, an overpaid, likely over-educated numbnut ventures into the void and lashes out those of us who defend the antiquated nonsense (actually 10 amendments) known as "The Bill of Rights", which are but "abstract" concepts after all, and since they're merely paper "rights",  can't be defended in any case.  Says WHO? Well, says Michael Lind, according to an article at supposedly delivering to us dopes the "real unknown history of the Bill of Rights."

Wowser! I didn't know! I mean, I've been a member of the ACLU and its Guardians of Liberty the past twenty years, but despite that, maybe I don't know jack shit. At least according to Lind's treatise I don't and by pounding on the issue of these alleged "rights" enshrined in the Constitution I risk becoming (if I'm not already) an "anti-government paranoid"  Jeezus freaking peace! So, according to Lind, we need to kick back - like 48% of our "citizens" already have according to polls - and stop losing sleep over the NSA mass surveillance.  We are in good hands, and the "checks and balances" built into the same Constitution will take care of any salient, worrisome issues.

Yeah, right! And if you believe that horse pockey I have an acre of beach front land to sell you in Barbados for only a hundred bucks!

The fact is, that since the über-State (as in Federal government) became toxified by intercourse with the corporate state, we no longer have a government of checks and balances. A glance over the past 12 years of our history will prove that, at least to any real citizen who possesses sufficient functioning neurons to sustain a memory that long! I mean must I really document the evidence? Okay, at least partially:

- Passage of the 'Patriot Act' without 96% of congress even reading it.  How the fuck is that a check on executive power? You tell me, Lind.

- Passage of the 2002 Iraqi War resolution by a supine, spineless congress that didn't even check to see the WMD malarkey was just that, a pretext to launch a war. Checks and balances, anyone? Anyone?

- Passage of the 2003 'Medicare Modernization Act' which was actually written by lobbyists like Billy Tauzin (Google him!) that hid the real costs of the damned bill (more a gift to corporate scheisters in the medical industry than anything else) and kept congress up to all hours to force a vote to pass it. Checks anyone?

- Passage of the Military Commissions Act suspending habeas corpus in 2006. Checks, anyone?

- Passage of the FISA "amendment" law in 2008, which was a reaction to the Bushies' warrantless, illegal wiretapping in 2005-06. In other words, this "law" made legal what once had been illegal. How the fuck can you have checks and balances when congress is populated by spineless whores?

Need I go on? I do believe the point had been made. Yet we read this sort of tripe from Lind:

"Madison’s bill of rights was a hodgepodge slapped together hastily to try to conciliate former opponents of the newly ratified federal Constitution.  This was a typical case of damage control by a reluctant politician trying to head off a more radical alternative by enacting a watered-down substitute. Madison would have been proud to be remembered as “the Father of the Constitution.” But he would have been appalled to be told that without his Bill of Rights the U.S. would be a tyranny."

Christ in a cap! Does this dope Lind really buy that? Evidently, as he goes on:

"History has vindicated the skepticism about bills of rights shared by Hamilton and Madison and a majority of the drafters and ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution. Mere paper guarantees of rights have never been enough to secure liberty, in periods when the public is panicked — think of Lincoln’s excessive suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, or FDR’s wartime internment of Japanese-Americans. And the American system of checks and balances has repeatedly, if belatedly, worked to check imbalances of power, as it did when Congress reined in “the imperial presidency” in the 1970s."

While he does have a semi-point, it is also true that if those rights weren't enshrined in actual writing, it is doubtful we could sustain any form of relative liberty. The instances he mentions of limited rights suspensions - in time and as per a specific population- were just that. But I argue that without any stated Bill of Rights, the powers-that-be, shameless power mongers that they are, would be even less likely to back off from seizing all authority unto themselves- and leaving us transparent ciphers at their beck and call. Read Jefferson's quote again at the top:

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone".

That means it's OUR job to keep our government on the straight and narrow. It's abdicating our duty as citizens to just believe what the gov't says because governments will always say whatever is expeditious to get a tighter leash on citizens. Also, governments through history are inevitably addicted to power and we know absolute power corrupts absolutely! If citizens are sleeping at the switch, then - as Lind seemingly expects - we all pay the price.

Lind also references the 70s, and indeed that decade (which included the original 1978 FISA law) may have been the last of real relative freedom, before the corporate state overtook the federal government and became a gangster state corporatocracy. Don't take my word for it! One of the best researchers to document the takeover of our government by the corporatists is Michael Parenti.

Parenti’s Dirty Truths also hits closer than many authors as to the actual motivation to eliminate JFK.  To paraphrase in not too many words, JFK had transgressed mightily against an entrenched “Gangster state” comprised of a mix of government and corporate interests (oil, banking). While the event preceded the entrenched corporatocracy we had by the late 1980s, the then banking and other (intel) interests foresaw that if JFK had his way the corporate state would never have come to fruition years later. For example, the Bretton Woods agreement had to be shattered to make way for truly globalized and monopolistic capital.
The assassination then was the Gangster state’s way to remedy the situation since one man couldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of their hegemonic aspirations. Parenti, in a powerful blow for truth-telling[1]:
“To know the truth about the assassination of John Kennedy is to call into question the state security system and the entire politico-economic order it protects. This is why for over thirty years the corporate-owned press and numerous political leaders have suppressed or attacked the many revelations about the murder unearthed by independent investigators like Mark Lane, Peter Dale Scott, Carl Oglesby, Harold Weisberg, Anthony Summers”


At the time (1963-early 1964) one might have felt this to be poppycock, but seen in hindsight (with the current corporate stranglehold on the nation as evinced in the recent health reform debacle and now it's pouring scorn on Edward Snowden) and given the permanent war state, it’s much less so. Parenti adds[1]:
The media have been tireless in their efforts to suppress the truth about the Gangster state”.
In the light of the preceding, Lind's next statement becomes absolutely laughable and the pinnacle of political naïvete:
"In the contemporary debate about civil liberties and government surveillance, absolutist civil libertarians routinely claim that “the Founders” viewed the Bill of Rights as essential to American liberty. But paranoid rhetoric about our allegedly tyrannical government is closer to the rhetoric of the Anti-Federalists who denounced the U.S. Constitution than to the thinking of the Constitution’s drafters, ratifiers and supporters."

"Allegedly tyrannical government"? Mate, you're not paying attention! See my blog post on the tie in of NSA mass surveillance to the COG program, two posts ago!  Paranoid rhetoric! Check out the facts of how checks and balances have been rendered redundant the past 12 years by our congress critters' shameful abdication of them! Also, check out Parenti's take before you trot out "paranoid rhetoric"!
I prefer instead Prof. Gary Wills' take ( ‘A Necessary Evil: A History Of American Distrust of Government’, Simon & Schuster, 1999, Chapter: 'Constitutional Myths') that those Rights are real, that they apply to persons-citizens and they also exist in unenumerated form in the Ninth Amendment! In this way the Bill of Rights, indeed, is effectively expanded beyond its 10 -amendment, actually listed purview. I wrote about this earlier:

Lind grasps none of this as when he ends by writing:

"The real Founders thought little of lists of abstract rights, putting their faith instead in checks and balances and accountability through elections. In the spirit of the real Founders, we should be debating what kind of system of congressional and judicial oversight of executive intelligence activity can best balance individual liberty with national security — and we should leave anti-government paranoia to today’s Anti-Federalists."

Again, Lind suffers from an engrained and tragic naïvete as if he's absolutely been trapped in a 50- year time warp (a kind of  latter day 'Rip van Winkle')  with no cognizance of how the corporate state has so metastasized into the sinews of our government that we now have a corporatocracy with essentially zero checks and balances! I mean lobbyists writing health care laws! Lobbyists writing banking laws? Congress not even READING a powerful, anti - rights bill that they blindly sign into law? A congress essentially having abdicated its war making powers to the executive?

One must ask in what freaking, fallow alternative universe Lind lives? It sure isn't the one I inhabit, or the rest of the real citizens I know!

Get this, Mr. Lind: if the REAL Founders were here right now - and blessed with the real politik knowledge the rest of us have (peculiar to deep politics, not standard political BS) they'd know enough not to waste their time debating "what kind of system of congressional and judicial oversight of executive intelligence activity can best balance individual liberty with national security" They'd already have seen ample evidence that the congress itself is the problem and we need to root them all out to restore real checks and balances, and with them the money (by way of campaign donations, bribes) that fuels the corporate gangster state!

See also:

[1] Michael Parenti: 1996, Dirty Truths, City light Books, p. 156.

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