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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/12/13

And Now the NSA

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Message C. S. Herrman
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And Now the NSA:

A Congress without Accountability

Implies a Government without Accountability

Implies Delegated Powers without Accountability

Implies a Nation at Risk of Losing Democratic Safeguards.

But Who Cares, Right? Not the American People, Apparently.


The simplest and easy-to-understand principles without which democracy is placed at risk have become banal, practically effete (as Spiro Agnew might have understood the idea). There are reasons for this. Our country remains heavily conservative -- defined as better than 50% of the populace registered as Republicans -- leading to a pair of observations: first, Bible-thumping Republicans present themselves as simpletons eschewing ethics and facts in order to uphold hypocritical truths and to believe whatever a scoundrel campaigning on the Republican ticket says on the sole basis of his or her depth of commitment to nonsense.

Second, Republicans as a whole are law-and-order freakazoids, trusting government to quell violence, now terror -- the same government they are certain must be miniaturized. Made small, that is, to avoid what they don't approve of: assistance to the needy and deserving; but as large as need be, and where ends justify means, for such law and order as meet their approval -- put gays in hell, Hispanics on boats, women in kitchens, blacks in jail -- reflecting, of course, the "if they had their druthers" position as opposed to the growing reality of liberal reason in matters of liberty.

Attitudes like the above are precisely why Middle Eastern countries have lain bareback to dictatorial rule for centuries. The same attitudes explain why aristocracies lose the sentiment of noblesse oblige and turn authoritarian. Events of the past few years -- decades, actually -- give reason to question whether Republican voters in particular are prepared to protect those principles that are the sine qua non of democratic polity. These events are like so many ribs jettisoned from a common backbone, ribs veering in two distinct but politically similar drifts, meeting at a sternum that defends an aristocratic pump tailored to blue-bloods increasingly bereft of any feeling for the oxygen that sustains human liberty.

The more evident and alarming of the two sets of ribs finds Republican officials ostensibly elected to deliver on putative democratic policies and programs converting (a term from old "bailment law" that generally denoted a felonious activity) those public interests into private interests that not only do not promote or defend said interests but in fact brutally deny them and threaten to overturn them. The corollary set of ribs finds the public -- by and large the Republican faction -- by turns scared and cajoled, into voting for tactics that are categorically anti-democratic and, in pure legal theory, frankly illegal. Worse still, they result in policies that ultimately harm the very voters fostering these shenanigans.

A certain Wisconsin governor of late converted the public interest into a warrant to destroy unions, in league with a Republican movement aiming at fatally reducing the money-raising potential for democratic candidates. While outrage still hovered, a recall election (rarely an effective device) called for his and various other ousters. The good people of Wisconsin got rid of minor players and spared Governor Walker. Meanwhile, an American boutique jurisprudence suitable to aristocratic sentiments conceives of all such conversions as the legitimate spoils of war.

War, after all, is what they consider election campaigns to be, since they are thinking less of the rule of compromise, less of democracy for all, and far more of all-or-nothing agendas premised on "my way or the highway" rules of the road. When the wealthy and powerful think that liberality is at war with them, they adopt an "ends justify the means" philosophy and then find a way to make the legal system defend it. It has now become a scar upon democracy; it ought to have long ago become an embarrassment that we thus show ourselves thus to the rest of the world.

The antics of Republican legislatures over the last thirty years demonstrate a pummeling of unions, a radical cutting of programs for lower-class efforts toward higher education (and now efforts to worsen the debt-payment problem), a radical program to fight a war on drugs (with the sordid corollaries for minorities) without thought that legalizing them is the only conceivable way to resolve the underlying conflicts, and to do so with privatized prisons whose profitability forcibly generalizes utility into a veritable dragnet now capturing youth offenders. Pervasive efforts have diverted resources away from public education in favor of private. In general: massive efforts to legislation, sometimes merely for the hell of it, preventing the public from associating anything except spending with the Democratic administration, the selfsame that has bent over backwards to help them. Think healthcare (which helps the lower and middle classes in particular) to budget bills, to education, abortion, and gun control.

The litany carries an unmistakable message, the same discovered in efforts of elected officials to "convert" public to private interests. Everything we see today tells us what the last thirty-forty years have really been all about, replete with a consistent six-Justice Catholic voting-block inclined to promote an agenda first lobbied for by Potter Stewart just before becoming a Justice himself. Pro-aristocratic and anti-democratic laws and attitudes -- nearly all of which find Richard Nixon's "silent majority" ready to keep in place by virtue of an inclination to vote Republicans into office.

Lawyers in general are part and parcel of this state of affairs. The American Revolution originated out of the aristocratic meddling of Englishmen with nascent democratic aspirations of the Colonists -- the "A" word doesn't have to be stated for the reality to be truthfully discerned. Naturally, the colonial culture was an offshoot of the English. Even Jefferson was proud of his gentry status. What he meant by that was the life of a gentleman stewarding himself by way of public service and achievement, not praise for an authoritarian aristocracy. Yes, clearly there were aristocratic elements among the Founding Fathers. The danger of that very faction -- politically, the Federalists -- to a democratic moiety was all too clear to Jefferson, who made the elections of 1800 and 1804 a referendum on democratic philosophy. Those two elections gave the impetus without which we would have long ago been every bit as bad as the English from whom we revolted. It has taken till now to become that bad. And there is no Jefferson of stature sufficient to concentrate the public mind upon the political gallows.

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Mr. Herrman is a liberal philosopher specializing in structural metaphysics, where he develops methodologies enabling him to derive valid and verifiable answers not only in matters of the ontology of reality, but also in real-world concerns for (more...)
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