Monday, April 03, 2006

The Frog Prince

Ranger is 60 years old, and the events of the last few years have led me to be curiouser and curiouser about the Declaration of Independence (DI), the statement of our country's raison d'etre. Since this is a bedrock document--predating the U.S. Constitution--it reflects the spirit and intent of the original fathers. And since we give a lot of lip service to democracy these days, I thought it best to go to the source for some insight and refreshment on our country's mission statement.

Before officials and military personnel swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, it'd be wise to require them to actually read these quaint foundation documents. I often wonder how many Americans have actually read them, much less understood their political and philosophical implications.

In the first paragraph of the Declaration, Jefferson refers to "Nature's God", indicating his Deism. The Founders were not fire-and-brimstone televangelists shilling for some right wing Republican party organization. Deism is not the same as Christianity.

Some further clarification of terms is necessary. The DI refers to the "King of Great Britain," King George III. For the purposes of this discussion, I'll refer to George W. Bush as George III, instead. (The Royal King George III is actually George #1, George Herbert Walker Bush is George #2, leaving GWB, George the 3rd in this dynasty of Georges.)

One breaking point with England was over obstructing British laws which prevented naturalization of foreigners and refused to encourage emigration. Sound familiar? Are we as a nation encouraging "migration hither"?
Ask the 11 million illegals presently in the country.

Further: "He has made judges dependent on his will alone." Do Harriet Myers ("She's my friend"), or Alito or Roberts, or for that matter, Gonzales, come to mind?

"He has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people." Sound suspiciously like Homeland Security and a normal day at the airport, gratis the Patriot Act?
Doesn't NSA eavesdropping on US citizens without warrants qualify as harassment?

"He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power." Does authorizing the military organization called the National Security Administration (NSA) to spy on us sound like something the DI was opposed to? In effect, the U.S. military is now a warrantless, long-term domestic spy agency, in blatant defiance of the concept of jurisdiction and civilian control of law enforcement. The U.S. military was not formed to spy on U.S. citizens.

Yet January 6, 2006, George III via executive order moved to suspend Posse Comitatus, which would institutionalize further militarization of law enforcement. (See my 3/8/06 post, Posse Comitatus Violation in NSA Eavesdropping.) This was done, of all reasons, to protect us from bird flu. So we're being militarized over some sick chickens. Chicken protection from chickenhawks.

"For protecting large bodies of armed troops and protecting them by mock trial from punishment." Sounds like the abuses at Abu Ghraib, Camps Alpha and X-ray, and armed enemy combatants, the latter of which do not even get the courtesy of a mock trial. The mock trials are the prosecution of junior enlisted soldiers.

Meanwhile, those in the chain of command have carte blanche. Incidentally, the Geneva Convention forbids putting POW's in prisons and penitentiaries--a point which has escaped an administration which believes it supersedes international law. And while we're at it, we've done a good job of poking the Geneva Convention full of holes, too, making it just as leaky as George III's rationale for implementing his pre-emptive war.

But here is the best way in which the Georges--I and III--mirror each other:
for "Depriving us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury." Does Jose Padillo and armed enemy combatants ring a bell?

If terrorists and "suspected" terrorists violate Federal Code, then try them by jury.
There is no other way in the U.S. system, a democracy last I checked, unless they are deemed prisoners of war. Either way, the rule of law should prevail, and in the USA, a trial by jury is the singular standard test for guilt.

"He has burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people."
Does this sound like an unjustified invasion of countries? While Iraq may not be "our people" (despite George's colonial behavior to the contrary), it is nonetheless a thorough rending of their social fabric.

It is perfectly acceptable to George III to destroy Iraqi towns so that we can have photo ops with purple thumbs. But destroying countries to make them democracies is not exactly Jeffersonian democratic thought in action.
And sacrificing our servicemen and women on the funeral pyre of George's misbegotten crusade certainly qualifies as the "destruction of our people."

He is transporting large armies to complete the works of death, destruction and tyranny with circumstances of cruelty scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation."
Ditto Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, et al.

"He has constrained...(citizens) to bear arms against their nation, to become executioners of their friends." Does the new US-formed Iraqi army reflect democratic ideals? Surely Shiites armed and trained with US finances are killing and torturing their brethren Sunnis in this civil war-like conflict.

"He has excited domestic insurrections." Again, creating an army in Iraq that has a sole purpose of suppressing its own citizens seems to qualify as "exciting insurrections."
What would you do if, say, a rabid band of Georgians or Idahoans wielding weapons came knocking on your door some night? Invite them in for a pow-wow?

"A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be a ruler of a free people." Our own George III has usurpt the congressional prerogative of declaring war. This act is illustrative of the Machiavellian corruption of character our President displays at each turn.

he President
cannot declare war under our laws. He can request a declaration of war by Congress, but as Commander-in-Chief, he cannot put the nation in a state of war. A President cannot constitutionally preempt the authority and purview of Congress. And C
ongress, in turn, has inverted democratic principles by accepting this travesty. The president is not a prince!

"And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." (Note: large D in Declaration, small d in divine, done by Jefferson in the original.)
The new conservative religious takeover in this country has reversed this.

A modern summation of this closing would probably condemn influence peddling to increase personal fortunes, and surely our sacred honor should not rest upon the profits (prophets) of companies contributing to the political longevity of any individual party. We should not be in the business of dynasty-making. Leave that to the cast of "Dallas" and other third-rate soaps.

Where is Jefferson's "sacred honor" now? I am feeling like a very bereft Diogenes today.

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