Sunday, August 1, 2010
More Attacks on the Constitution
My apologies to my readers for my unforeseen hiatus. You may or may not be pleased to read that I am working on a book, perhaps even two books if the two topics I am attempting to write about prove too divergent or if the volume of material dictates separating it into two tomes. Anyone interested in more information can contact me here in the comments section. Anyway, enough about me.
It's been an interesting week, more accurately a frightening week for those of us watching the current administration continue to consolidate power and marginalize the Constitution.
I began to take notice back in January of this year, when, during President Obama's State of the Union Address, he berated the Supreme Court over a ruling while the Democratic lawmakers present stood and applauded. This sort of browbeating is banana-republic stuff. It's also a clear violation of the separation of powers as laid out in Articles I-III of the Constitution. The purpose of having three branches of government is that they are able to check and balance each other. When the Chief Executive and the majority of Congress are in ideological lockstep and attempt to bully the Supreme Court the system is circumvented. It's also a violation of the Principle of Judicial Independence, which is supposed to insulate the courts from political pressure. The Supreme Court generally attends State of the Union Addresses as a courtesy to the President, they are however, bound by protocol to remain silent. In my opinion, regardless of the President's ideological differences with some of the Justices, the Court deserved better.
On to more recent events:
In a new law purported to increase transparency within the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Dodd-Frank bill (now law) contains a section declaring that the SEC "shall not be compelled to disclose records or information obtained" in pursuit of its "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." It goes on to specifically exempt those records from the Freedom of Information Act.
The SEC was established by Congress in 1934 in response to the stock market crash of 1929 as a quasi-judicial body to regulate the stock exchanges, the companies whose securities traded on them, as well as the brokers and dealers who conducted the trading. The SEC is vested by Congress with the power to investigate and levy civil penalties against companies or traders suspected of insider trading and other securities violations as well as referring cases for criminal prosecution where warranted. Toward this end, the commission requires publicly traded companies to file quarterly, annual and other periodical reports for examination. These reports often contain proprietary information that is exempted from the Freedom of Information Act.
Conclusion: The new law provides a secondary layer of insulation from the public where one already existed. Considering the enormous unpopularity of much of what the administration is doing out in the open, the thought of what they're trying to conceal makes my head spin.
In a Washington Post article dated July 29th, 2010, Ellen Nakashima wrote that the Obama administration is seeking to broaden the scope of the FBI's ability to seize companies' electronic records without a warrant. The expansion would come with the addition of four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval. According to government lawyers the category of information referred to in the proposed expanded search and seizure regulations includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history. It does not include, according to the attorneys, the "content" of e-mail or other Internet communication. All of this is based on an agent's suspicion that the information might be relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation. No need to trouble a judge for a warrant, no need to consult with a higher-up. Big Brother is watching YOU.
Why does this trouble me so? Does anyone remember the 4th Amendment? (Constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure without probable cause AND a warrant). But what really concerns me is this: President Nixon's enemies list is legendary; Obama's list probably makes Nixon look like a rank amateur. In the 2008 campaign Obama promised to fundamentally change America and he is doing just that. There's just one problem, those pesky Tea Parties, (well, them and FOX News). You know those people that believe in traditional American values, fiscal responsibility, smaller government, restoring the Constitution, etc.
The President has surrounded himself with '60s radicals and former avowed Communists. His ideals run counter to ours. Something needed to be done. Well, the once proud and respectable NAACP has come out and branded the Tea Parties racists without a shred of evidence. Now, I am not saying this originated in the Oval Office, but I am not in the business of underestimating people either. I very seriously doubt that the President didn't have a heads up and could not have stopped it if he chose. He chose not to stop it or admonish the NAACP; their decree served his purposes.
Sadly, you can't prove a negative. When you label someone a racist,it is like any other distasteful accusation. Even if the person or organization is cleared, the taint of disreputability remains. With the smear campaign underway, the thing that keeps me up at night is the fear that some misguided lunatic or group of the same will commit some heinous act a la Timothy Mc Veigh or Ted Kaczynski. Such an event would give the government an excuse to label the Tea Parties terrorist organizations across the board and allow the FBI to come down full-force on those righteous Americans trying to SAVE the Constitution.
And now, follow me further into conspiracy theory land if you dare..
But first a little history.
On January 30th, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and asked by President Paul von Hindenburg to lead a coalition government. With many National Socialists (Nazis) already in prominent positions within the German Government, Hitler agreed, but with one caveat; Hitler wanted the Reichstag (the Lower House of Parliament), dissolved with special elections to be held on March 5th. Hitler wanted to replace Communists in the Reichstag with Nazis in order to consolidate power. Campaigning on both sides was violent and fierce. What the ultimate results of the election might have been could not be guessed at. However, on February 27th, six days before the scheduled elections, a fire broke out in the Reichstag chamber. The National Socialists' reaction was swift and overwhelming. Hitler quickly blamed the German Communist Party (KPD) and convinced the increasingly senile von Hindenburg to declare martial law, stripping German citizens and especially Communists and foreigners of most basic civil rights.
The 'ORDER of the REICH PRESIDENT for the PROTECTION of PEOPLE and STATE', more commonly known as the 'REICHSTAG FIRE DECREE' consisted of six articles. Article 1.) suspended most of the civil liberties set forth in the Weimar Constitution, including freedom of the person, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right of free association and public assembly, the privacy of the mail and telephone, as well as protection of property and home. Articles 2.) and 3.) allowed the Reich government to assume powers normally reserved for the federal states. Articles 4.) and 5.) established severe penalties for certain offenses, including the death penalty for arson to public buildings. Article 6.) simply stated that the decree took effect on the day of its proclamation.
With KPD members being detained by the thousands and many others fleeing the country, the Nazi Party gained a clear majority within the German government which allowed them to pass the 'ENABLING ACT' effectively turning Germany into a dictatorship in Adolf Hitler's hands.
The Reichstag Fire Trial began in July of 1933 with indictments on charges of arson against Marinus van der Lubbe and complicity against Ernst Torgler, Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov, and Vassil Tanev. The trial ran through December 23rd of that year. Surprisingly only van der Lubbe was found guilty. He was beheaded in prison shortly thereafter.
Many people in and outside of Germany have long believed that van der Lubbe was guilty of nothing more than being a communist and that the whole event was orchestrated by the Nazis to get everyday Germans who were living under the crushing economic burden caused by the reparations to France outlined in the Treaty of Versailles to line up behind Hitler and the National Socialists. The Reichstag fire was a crystallizing moment, Germans were led to believe that their anti-Communist, anti-Semitic and generally xenophobic feelings had a home in the Third Reich and that they had found their pride again. It does not really matter who really set the physical fire, the existential one has a much greater place in the history of propaganda, or as President Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is fond of saying,"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Thanks, Mr. Emanuel for stating succinctly what I, in my verbosity could never do. Thank you you also for a peek into the mindset of the current administration.
What concerns me here (and feel free to ask me about my tin-foil hat), is that perhaps the "New" Democratic Party might get tired of waiting for some lone nut or hate-group to commit some act(s) of terrorism in the name of the Tea Parties and stage its own Reichstag incident. Fifteen months ago I would have laughed at the idea, but I have seen too much and I am dedicating myself to bringing it to your attention. The enemy we're facing isn't a person, a group or party or even a political ideology. No, the real enemy is apathy. How can we know that the Constitution and the principles of the Founders are being marginalized every day if we don't even know the rights we are losing every day, or the principles men fought and died for to create and protect this nation. Do the research, the information is out there. If you find me to be in error, I will THANK you.
Stay tuned folks. Coming soon:
The current status of President Obama's deep-water drilling moratorium.
Where the idle rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are going and if we can expect to see them again.