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  1. #1
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    The First is being used to attack The Second -

    Before The American Revolution, The Constitution, and The Bill Of Rights - a king ruled America from England. As kings generally do; he ruled without checks and balances, he allowed no freedom of speech, there was no due process, and no privacy - especially when it came to protecting his power. The People were Subjects of The King - that is subjected to His Will.

    One of the results of that was The United States Constitution. The Founding Fathers were well aware of the many kingly offenses and so certainly had a deep and profound suspicion of what an unchecked / unrestrained government could do. And also a strong conviction that power and freedom are not likely to co-exist comfortably in a democracy. So a balancing-mechanism was required and devised.

    So the US Constitution outlines what the US government can do - The US Bill Of Rights then declares what the US government Can Not do.

    The preamble to The Bill of Rights states: . . . . “a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of it's powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of it’s institution.”

    Thomas Jefferson stated separately, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.”

    In other words, The Bill of Rights was written specifically to make sure that the new government would not / could not replicate the abuses of power of the previous government. It is interesting (to me anyway) to note that each amendment spoke directly to a specific offense committed by the king. But their purpose, collectively, was to lay out in clear language what the government Could Never Take Away. It is deeply humbling to me just how brilliantly, how pointedly, concise The Bill Of Rights actually is.

    My original point here was to say what I also see: a present time in which our government is willfully abandoning the basic ideas which successfully guided Our Great Nation and Our People through hundreds of years of challenges. It creates an eery and growing suspicion to me.

    Before The Constitution; America lived then under the control of a king. Our present day parallel is the last few Presidencies - those of the last twenty years say. That English king was a powerful, unitary, executive who ruled at a distance from The People. And his overall goal was simple: To use his power over “his” American colonies to draw out the maximum financial gain while suppressing any dissent that might endanger his control.
    And back then protest was dangerous.
    Speech could make you the enemy of the government.
    Journalism could be a crime if you didn’t write in support of those in power.
    A citizen needed to watch what he said - the king's spies were everywhere.
    Laws were brutal.
    Punishments could be swift - as well as extra-judicial.
    Sometimes troops simply shot down those merely assembling to speak out.
    The king’s men used “writs of assistance“ which allowed them to burst into any home or business, with or without even Suspicion of wrongdoing.
    American privacy was violated and property ransacked, often simply as a warning of the king’s power.

    (probably some colonist was saying: “But if I have nothing to hide - why should I be afraid? <g> ). But of course, when a population is categorically treated as a potential enemy - everyone has something to hide; if . . . . the government claims that they do.

    The eventual Bill Of Rights, for more than two centuries, had it’s meaning and it’s purpose, generally expanded. The basic principles which guided America were sustained - despite foreign wars, domestic civil war, world wars, depressions, and all the rest.

    OK; but what have we all lost since those times?

    The First Amendment says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    The First Amendment is First In Line very specifically because something has to be perfectly clear to all: Free Speech is the basis for a government of and for The People. Because without a free uncensored press, as well as the ability to openly gather, debate, protest, and criticize, how would the people be able to judge their government’s adherence to the other Rights? How could people vote knowledgeably if they didn’t know what was being done in their name by their government? Jefferson wrote: “An informed citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a Free People.”

    That was then - this is now: the US government now strives to ‘control the message’. That is: to actively thwart efforts to maintain a citizenry informed about what’s done in it's name.

    I'll touch on the Freedom of Information Act. It certainly has a nice ring to it - who doesn’t want all information about what is going on to be freely available? It began with the seemingly worthy premise that, except for some obvious categories (like serious national security matters and personal information), the position of the government should be: Everything their government does is available to the The People. Like the Bill of Rights, which made specific the Limits of government, the FOIA began with a presumption that it was the government’s duty to make information available - freely and quickly - to The People, unless a convincing case could be made otherwise. In very modern terms; the default position of the FOIA-switch was set to ON. <g>

    But now, thirty years since it was enacted, we have a history clearly showing that the (so-called) FOIA system works rather differently: Government Agencies are generally averse to releasing any documents of any sort - and instead put their efforts into creating roadblocks to legitimate requests. Hell; some requests still require handwritten signatures on actual paper.

    (The State Department website specifically notes, “Requests for personal information cannot be submitted electronically and should be submitted by mail.”)

    Other government agencies demand hyper-detailed information like the precise dates and titles of documents whose dates and titles may be classified and unavailable. The NSA simply denies almost all FOIA requests out of hand. I know from personal experience that federal agencies now regard the deadline (which is legally mandated) for a response as: The time period in which to send out a ‘request received’ form-letter - not to comply with the actual request - which can then apparently take forever. <g> They tend to assign only a few staff members to processing requests, leading to near-endless delays. Interestingly; I was told that at The State Department most FOIA work is done on a part-time basis by retirees. <g>

    The CIA won’t directly release electronic versions of documents. Even when a request is fulfilled, which is extremely rarely, the ‘free copying’ is most often denied and if granted the reproduction costs wildly exaggerated. It’s very suspiciously odd to me just how often files are ‘unavailable / cannot be located’. <g>

    I spend some time in Florida and noted that when the Sarasota Police Department was charged with over-stepping it’s authority with it’s use of the cell phone surveillance tool called: Stingray - early on the exact morning that the police department would have had to show their files under the terms of the FOIA, Federal Marshals suddenly arrived and physically took possession of the files. Stating that they had ‘deputized' the local cops and that made the files federal property. Cute huh? <g>

    All US government agencies seem to have regulations requiring employees to obtain permission before speaking even to the communication-representatives of The People - that is; Journalists. The U.S. Intelligence Community has among the most restrictive of these policies, banning employees and contractors Completely from talking with the media without prior authorization. Even speaking about unclassified information is a no-no which can cost you your job. A government ever more in lockdown mode has created a government culture where censorship is the Norm. Hmmmm . . . . so now who Does ’speak to The American People’? Who but the ever growing hordes of ‘spokespeople’, ‘communications staff’ - trained PR crews, and those mysteriously anonymous ‘senior officials’ who pop up so regularly in news articles. <g> We now have a government apparently obsessively seeking to hide or spin what it does, to bar any real 'open & honest’ contact with the American People, and to keep those inside the government locked behind an iron curtain of secrecy.

    Speaking of which; during or about the time of WW1 a law called The Espionage Act was passed. All actions taken under it were eventually reversed by the Supreme Court - but the law itself remained. But the Obama administration charged at least six people under that 100 year old and long abandoned wartime law for allegedly mishandling classified information. Hell; even Richard Nixon only invoked it once. <g> But the word “espionage” could hardly Be stranger in the context of these cases:

    1. None of those charged spied.
    2. None sought to aid an enemy.
    3. None sought to make money selling secrets.

    But somehow, in present times, the powers-that-be stand ready to twist language in whatever Orwellian direction is necessary to bridge the gap between reality and ‘the king’s' needs.

    In the Espionage Act case of State Department contractor Stephen Kim, a judge starkly departed from previous precedent, ruling that the prosecution need not even show that the information leaked to a Fox news reporter from a CIA report on North Korea could damage U.S. national security or to benefit a foreign power. He ruled that it could Still be a part of an “espionage” charge. The real questions never asked are:

    1. How the hell can a law designed almost 100 years ago to stop German spies in wartime have become a tool to silence the few Americans willing to risk everything to exercise OUR First Amendment rights?

    2. When did free speech become a crime?

    In June 2014, the Supreme Court ratified a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that the First Amendment didn’t protect a reporter from being forced to testify about “criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in.”

    Is this line redacted in their copy of The Constitution? “Congress shall make no law . . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the (freedom of the) press . . . “

    As with the King of England once upon a time - many of the things the government now does have been approved in secret, sometimes in secret courts according to a secret body of law. Sometimes, they were even approved openly by Congress.

    In Constitutional America, the actions of the Executive and the laws passed by Congress were Only Legal when they did not conflict with the underlying Constitutional Principles of Our Nation.

    Not any more. “Law” made in secret, including pretzeled legal interpretations by the Justice Department for The White House, opened the way, for small instance, to the use of torture on prisoners and then in the Obama years; to the drone-strike assassination of Americans. Because such “legalities” remain ‘officially classified’, they are, of course, doubly difficult to challenge. <g>

    But can’t we count on the usual pendulum swings in American life to change this? There were indeed notable moments in American history when parts of the Constitution were put aside, but none are truly comparable to our current situation. The Civil War lasted five years, with Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus limited in geography and robustly contested. The World War II Japanese internment camps closed after three years and the persecuted were just a sub-set of Japanese-Americans exclusively from the west coast. Senator McCarthy’s notorious career as a communist-hunter lasted four years and ended in shame.

    But now, almost 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, it apparently remains “wartime.” For the ‘so-called’ war on terror - the driver and the primary stated reason given for the tattering of the Bill of Rights - there is no end in sight. These days, wartime is apparently forever, which means that a government working ever more in secret has ever more latitude to decide which rights, in which form, applied in what manner, are still inalienable.

    The usual history of America's descent into a post-constitutional state goes something like this: in the panic after the 9/11 attacks, under the leadership of Vice President Dick Cheney but with the full support of President George W. Bush, a cabal of top government officials pushed through legal-lite measures to (as they liked to say) “take the gloves off” and allow kidnapping, torture, illegal surveillance, and offshore imprisonment along with indefinite detention without charges or trial.

    Barack Obama, elected on a series of (false) promises to roll back the worst of the Bush-era crimes, while rejecting torture and closing America’s overseas “black sites,” still pushed the process forward in his own way. He expanded executive power, emphasized drone assassinations (including against American citizens), gave amnesty to torturers, increased government secrecy, targeted whistleblowers, and heightened surveillance.

    In other words, two successive opposite-party administrations lied, performed legal acrobatics, and bullied their way toward a kind of absolute power that hasn’t been seen since the days of King George.

    A key factor remains missing in such a version of post-9/11 events in America: The People.

    I saw a poll a few years ago which said that (I think it was) 45% of Americans agreed that torture is: “sometimes necessary and acceptable to gain information which may protect the public.” Americans as a group seem unsure about whether the NSA’s global and domestic surveillance is justified - and many are convinced that Edward Snowden (for an example) and the journalists who published his material are criminals. Hell; I remember seeing meme’s in regard to “whistleblowers” with the caption: Patriot or Traitor? And also in regard to the ‘war on terror’ with the caption: Security or Freedom?

    It’s not that Americans are incorrect to be fearful and to feel in need of protection. But the primary thing we need to protect ourselves against is not the modest domestic threat from terrorists - but rather; the substantial and increasing threat of a New King. That is: a unitary executive branch that has taken the law for it's own, aided and abetted by the courts, supported by a powerful national security state, and is unopposed by a corrupted and weakened Congress. Without a strong Bill of Rights to protect US - indeed; secure us, from the dangers of our own government, we will soon enough find ourselves gone-full-circle - back to a non-Constitutional America that shares much in common with the pre-constitutional British colonies.

    My amazement is that there is no widespread, mainstream, movement of opposition to what the government has very clearly been doing.

    The People are somnolent and, in their daze; apparently willing to accept (and maybe even Welcome), out of simple fear; the death of The Bill of Rights - one amendment at a time. We, you and I; all of US, are the maybe first to be able to peer through the smokey darkness to see at least the vague outline of what a non-Constitutional American future may well look like.

    And even worse to ponder; WE could easily be the last who might be able to prevent it.

    To answer a 'some time back question posted: Yes; it’s both sides AND the middle - they All have to go - and WE still have the tools to accomplish it. A singular and unselfish Will - and the ultimate power of Our Vote.

    1. Always Vote
    2. Never Vote for an incumbent

    Please; let us save ourselves and Our Nation while we still can.
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

  2. #2
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    Very well said! May I quote you?

    We did get advance warning almost 70 years ago from George Orwell and Aldous Huxley... We have just been "frogs in an ever warming pot" and ignored the warning.

    And Senator McCarthy might have been one of the early victims of the "fake news" purveyors. Seems eerily similar to what the press is doing to Trump. Yer thots?

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  4. #3
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    IMO... people have to want freedom enough to stand up and demand it...

    Wonder if the current generation of millenials have that level of gonads???
    Or if they do not care who rules over them... as long as their social media does not go away???
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Your comfort, Your way, Everyday!

    GA's basic rules of home heating and AC upgrades:
    *Installation is more important than the brand of equipment
    *The duct system keeps the house comfortable; the equipment only heats and cools (and dehumidifies)
    *Cheap is not good, good is not cheap; however expensive is not a guarantee of quality!
    Choose your contractor wisely!

  5. #4
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    Thread Starter
    You can quote me. Although I see that in my editing mania - to make it shorter - I cut out a lot of what made the title completely applicable to the text. <g>

    Something else that I left out is that as I already know the arguments against my 'Never Vote For An Incumbent' government-cleansing method - so I have been pondering a possible workable alternative.

    What does everybody think of this:

    1. Always Vote.
    2. Never vote for a Republican or a Democrat.

    John Adams said that he wished he could be sure that the day would never come where America would become divided into two great-parties. Because he well knew the abuses which come from the accumulation of great power.

    And that is exactly what we have in this country today: Huge political party power which effectively eliminates any outsider, any dissenter, any independent voice from ever getting elected.

    If we always voted but never voted for a republican or a democrat - we could break the concentrated power of the two parties AND we could bring true evaluation-of-qualites consideration in our political process.

    As it is there are great masses of people who will never vote for any democrat - no matter how well qualified - simply because they 'always vote republican'.

    And there are also great masses of people who will never vote for any republican - no matter how well qualified - simply because they 'always vote democrat'.

    The votes from these two masses of people are essentially non-votes - they each simply cancel an opposing vote. Which is why it is the independent vote which is always curried by both the democrats and the republicans. And the candidate who gets more of the independents to vote for them is generally the winner.

    What does everyone think of that two-step-cleansing idea?

    PHM
    -------



    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Madera View Post
    Very well said! May I quote you?

    We did get advance warning almost 70 years ago from George Orwell and Aldous Huxley... We have just been "frogs in an ever warming pot" and ignored the warning.

    And Senator McCarthy might have been one of the early victims of the "fake news" purveyors. Seems eerily similar to what the press is doing to Trump. Yer thots?
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

  6. Likes Missouri Guy liked this post.
  7. #5
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    PHM, your opening post is well stated and accurate. Our school systems have basically removed any teaching of the constitution from our classrooms. Your post ought to be and at one time was the core of public school government class. No longer. My conservative daughter, a fifth grade teacher was "discovered" teaching the US Constitution to her students and was stopped by the administration.

    College students have been stopped on campus for simply passing out copies of our constitution.
    "No matter how thirsty your imagination, mirages contain no water"

  8. #6
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    Good info PHM.
    ...

  9. #7
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    If true, (and I have no reason to doubt it) We are already through as country! The commies have long ago been subverting the "education" process to their own ends and we just blithely contribute to the "poor teachers" who cannot buy enough supplies for the classroom. Not enough we pay anywhere from 6-18k per pupil in taxes... I think we've been had..... Hoodwinked. Cheated out of our birthright. Pass the K-Y so it goes easier on ya... But; buy your own!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh B View Post
    PHM, your opening post is well stated and accurate. Our school systems have basically removed any teaching of the constitution from our classrooms. Your post ought to be and at one time was the core of public school government class. No longer. My conservative daughter, a fifth grade teacher was "discovered" teaching the US Constitution to her students and was stopped by the administration.

    College students have been stopped on campus for simply passing out copies of our constitution.

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