You are browsing the archive for Constitution.

Great Recession? Or Great Reconstruction?

10:13 am in Uncategorized by marsdragon

The Great Recession is turning out to be a great front and cover for what I term the “Great Reconstruction” of American Society.  It is the overturning of democracy in favor of Corporate Oligarcy, and it is the desctruction of the Middle Class to create Two Americas – the very wealthy, and the very poor.  The War on Women that we are seeing it really a sub-part of that agenda.  By forcing women to submit to the morality of their employers, they are being turned into second-class citizens.

A couple of threads come together in my mind to make this conclusion.

1) The Banks were too big to fail, and were given bailouts and Investment Banks like Goldman, Merril Lynch, and others were allowed to convert to Bank Holding Companies within 48 hours of failure.  This gave them access to Federal Reserve lending and discount windows.  This process should have had a much longer vetting, but did not.  It was fast-tracked.  That tells you who runs the show.  The Financial Industry.

2) Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress passed the bipartisan Gramm-Leech-Bliley Act in 1999 (the Financial Services Modernizatino Act of 2000).   Almost on Christamas Eve of 1999 to be exact.  I remember because I was a law student that year, and I was taking financial analysis and securities law courses that Fall and Spring Semester.  The professors were abuzz with discussion of the new laws, and they made us do papers analyzing parts of the bill.  The number one thing I remember learning is that this was a dismantling of Glass-Steagall and the Securities laws of FDR passed in the wake of the 1929 Stock Market Crash.  Specifically – this new law tore down the Firewalls between Banking, Insurance, and Investment Banking.  From 1933 until 1999, those 3 sectors were not allowed to comingle funds, deposits, income, assets, etc.   The Greg Smith op-ed is insightful, since he started working at Goldman in 2000, exactly when these protections had just been dismantled.  In addition, this law created the plethora of newly designed FINANCIAL DERIVATES and allowed for the SECURITIZATION OF MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES.  As some prominent economisists have noted, this was nothing short of MORAL HAZARD. 

3) The Citizens United Case, as we all know, enshrines the concepts that MONEY is SPEECH and that Corporations are People.  More specifically, it provides for a framework in which the CORPORATE ENTITY is treated as an individual for CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION purposes.  A Corporation is therefore allowed to asserts it FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS as if it were an individual.

4) The War on Women that appears to have finally become the new frontline of political reality.   While this is, at one level, a continuation of the Conservative attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and establish a religious-right perspective on this nation, it is much more than that.

Case in point.  Arizona House Bill 2625.  I’ve linked to the article at  statepress.com, but you can find analysis of that at Think Progress and other progressive sites.    In summary, this bill will require women to bring a NOTE to their EMPLOYER proving that they are not having sex, or that they are not using the Birth Control Pill to prevent pregnancy.  In other words, women, whether married or not, must get their Employers’ permission to use birth control.  And if the Employer does not believe in Birth Control Pills as a way to prevent Pregnancy (“Sex is only for Procreation and NOT Pleasure” mindset) then it means that the Employer will have the RIGHT under the Arizona Law (and other laws passed by likeminded states) to PREVENT COVERAGE BY THE INSURANCE CARRIER for that birth control pill.  The law also requires the women to show their medical histories to the employer to prove their point.  The entire decision rests with the Employer.  And the women who work in “right-to-work” states will also be at risk of instant termination, without cause, for failure to do anything the Employer likes.   Those states are very difficult to prosecute employment discrimination claims in, particularly in the 5th circuit (Texas, Lousiana, Mississippi).  The result is that the women must oblige the employer or risk being fired.  And above all, cannot obtain birth control pills without her employer’s MORAL CONSENT.

If that wasn’t enough, the reason it is included in this analysis is because of a curious comment made by the bill’s SPONSOR.  A Repulican Woman, Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, stated:

“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the  Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”

That is worth dissecting for a moment.  She believes that this is not the USSR, but the USA, and therefore, she feels justified in asserting this law.  She believes that the FIRST AMENDMENT FREEDOM OF RELIGION applies to a COMPANY itself.  And by extension, that COMPANY’s RELIGION is epitomized by the OWNER of that company.

First – the woman who uses birth control pills is an individual.  She is making a MEDICAL DECISION for herself.  The decision is between herself and her doctor.  The Insurance Company should not really be part of that equation in the first place.  But, for purposes of PAYMENT, they are a third party.  FOR PAYMENT PURPOSES.  And of course, the slippery slope is that they get involved in appropriateness of payment issues.  Is the medical procedure, pill, device, etc for a REAL purpose or a SHAM purpose.  That kind of involvment.  But Insurance Companies have never before been given MORAL ANALYSIS rights.  They never were allowed, under prior laws, to dictate which surgeries or procedures or pills could be given on a MORAL BASIS.  Only on a MEDICAL BASIS.  Insurers were allowed to request a less expensive method be used or to limit certain exams to once a year instead of twice, because there was a SCIENTIFIC RATIONALE (however thin or untested it may have been) to the objection.  But never a moral objection.

Second – the EMPLOYER is not the one making the moral decision here.  Nowhere in the Bible or American Jurisprudence has there ever been a statement or precedent or law or proverb that says an EMPLOYER will be judged or damned based on the decisions of the EMPLOYEES.   The only SECULAR law I can find that mirrors this kind of thinking is the one that that FEUDAL laws espoused.  Where the NOBLE was responsible for his vassal’s conduct on his land.  In Scotland in 1609, laws were passed enjoining the Highland Chiefs to become responsible for their clan members.  They were being held accountable for the actions of those who were under their authority.   Employer liability laws have been routinely and severely CURTAILED in the past 30 years by TORT REFORM.  No longer are Employers liable under the law for the actions of their employees in thousands of cases.  There are so few ways to attach liability to an employer for the actions of an employee.  So, all of a sudden, a woman employee’s ACTIONS are now a breach of an EMPLOYER’s religion?

Third – the woman employee used to have RIGHTS under the Constitution.  To engage in HER OWN religious and medical decisions.  To allow an EMployer the right to RESTRICT that employee’s protection is to basically say that the COMPANY/OWNER right are more protected under the FIRST AMENDMENT than the Employee’s rights under the same constitution. 

Conclusion/Analysis:   This is nothing short of an extension under Citizens United.   CORPORATIONS (and by proxy, their OWNERS) are allowed to assert the Constitutional Protections as FULL CITIZENS UNDER THE LAW.   Therefore, an OWNERS’ religion is the same as that of the CORPORATION.  Its like the old European Peace of Augsburg Treaty (1555) where the Prince’s Religion was to be the People’s Religion.  A Lutheran Prince could enforce Lutheranism in his province, and a Catholic Prince could enforce Catholicism in his province.  The Princes had liberties under the Constitution of the Holy Roman Empire.  But the PEASANTS had no such freedoms.  They were brutally suppressed if they tried to practice a different faith than their Secular lord.  That is how this law is applied.  A Catholic Business-Owner (Corporation) can impose its religious beliefs on the INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEES, even if its a secular business that pays taxes.  

The INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEES are not FULL CITIZENS any longer.  They are FRACTIONAL citizens.  They only get First Amendment Protection in limited cases.  They can’t freely choose a medical or religious application of medical decisions.  They must submit to the FULL CITIZEN power/rights of the CORPORATION.

And these are CORPORATIONS that have the backing of the US GOVERNMENT.  They have access to the US Federal Reserve, Treasury, and other Taxpayer funds to keep themselves afloat.

This is the emergence of a FEUDAL-FASCISM.  In other words, we are witnessing not the Great Recession, but the GREAT RECONSTRUCTION of America from a Democratic Capitalist Nation to a FEUDAL FASCIST NATION.

Constitutional Referendum: Scrap the Two-Party System

2:56 pm in Uncategorized by marsdragon

Looking at other national models, I am becoming convinced that a major stumbling block to progress and reform in America is the Two Party System.  It is much easier for corporations to corrupt our politicians with bribery lobbying money and to blackmail unduly influence them with promises of jobs in private industry. 

A parliamentary system would allow for the creation of multiple political parties, none of which have to gain a majority to form a national government, and which will be forced to strike a healthy balance between coaltion-building, compromise, and responding to constituent issues. 

Imagine a political party…
  1. - whose highest profile politician was openly gay;
  2. - that fights to stop the penetration of GMOs into the food supply;
  3. - that actually implements a progressive tax structure on individuals and businesses;
  4. - that will prefer to RAISE TAXES instead of CUTTING SOCIAL BENEFITS;
  5. - that fights to balance its budget;
  6. - that believes in Nuclear Disarmament;
  7. - that rejects the building of coal and nuclear facilities;
  8. - that SPENDS money to build hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, and wind generation facilities;
  9. - that defends the rights of the family farmer;
  10. - that redirects Union donations to building INFRASTRUCTURE that creates jobs;
  11. - that fights for free college tuition for all residents;
  12. - that believes in tax-payer funded public education for all children;
  13. - that stood AGAINST the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and the “War on Terror”;
  14. - that places a Green Economy at the top of its agenda;
  15. - that seeks to open dialogue with all parties in the Middle East, not just the ones NATO deems okay;
  16. - that rejects the placement of nuclear weapons by NATO in its nation’s borders;
  17. - that rejects the privatization of ANY public sector service;
  18. - that rejects the predatory lending of a Central Bank-backed financial services industry;
  19. - that believes in building jobs and a future for the residents of its own nation first, and then extending those benefits through trade and commerce to other nations second;
  20. - that rejects the investment in a military-industrial complex altogether, openly preferring the building of schools, libraries, and critical civilian infrastructure;
  21. - that believes in increasing unemployment benefits and help for the poor, while providing as much assistance as possible to make them employed and lift them out of poverty;
  22. - that supports the use of limited force in Libya to prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians, but opposes the killing of civilians as collateral damage;
  23. - that condemns the drone airstrikes of the United States in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen;
  24. - that supports the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank, with full diplomatic recognition for both a free and independent Palestine and a free and secure Israel;
  25. - that fights for the full equality of same-sex marriages in all matters of property, adoption, family law, and estate inheritance ;
  26. - that agrees with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the establishment of the International Criminal Court;
  27. - that believes in a Nationalized Health Care, bereft of any Insurance Middleman, that allows complete access for ALL RESIDENTS to ALL HEALTHCARE through a simple tax scheme that ALL parties (business and individual) must pay into on a PROGRESSIVE TAX RATE;
  28. - that accomplishes JOB CREATION at the same time as TAX INCREASES on the wealthiest members of its society and still manages to cut red tape bureacracy that burdens the middle class while still implementing practical and effective REGULATIONS on industry that don’t fall prey to regulatory capture or lobbyist enticements…;
  29. - And that earns the enmity of Right-Wing hate groups for being too inclusive of Muslims;
  30. - that has the country’s first muslim representative, Bashir Ahmad;
  31. - and still maintains its identity as a staunch Nationalist party (that includes ALL faiths, creeds, and ethnicities);
  32. - and best of all… that has had at least 4 years in major national officeholding positions to prove that its candidates don’t just talk the talk, but WALK THE WALK and implement policies that it promises during campaign season.
Can you imagine such a political party?  I can.  It’s called the Scottish National Party with Alex Salmond as the most recent First Minister of Scotland (from 2007 to March 22, 2011) and Alyn Smith as the Scottish representative in the European Parliament at Brussels.  Scotland is entering elections this week for the next Parliamentary Government.  You can hear the Podcasts for the past 4 years where MPs of Labour, Conservative, Green and Liberal Democrat parties in Scotland all had a chance to put questions to First Minister Salmond about events here.
 
This party has accomplished ALMOST ALL of  those things, and more.   The Full Equality for Gay Couples campaign can be futher understood at these links:  Catholic Church clashes with SNP, and  The SNP is the only party in Scotland that support separation from England to therefore legislate on Same-Sex Marriage independent of all objections by Westminster, and the SNP openly criticizes the Westminster government every chance it gets.  (Since laws impacting families and inheritance are governed out of London, Scotland cannot pass laws legalizing it until it achieves independence from England through a Referendum of Separation that the SNP is attempting to push). 
But, before we get too critical of the SNP’s inability to yet declare independence from the “oppressive” climate out of Westminster, lets be very fair here and compare the UK’s laws on LGBT rights vs. the United States (which is to say that for all the tyranny of London, it makes the US look like a medieval backwater).  And more here.
While the Free Church of Scotland still holds some degree of influence and sway over most Scots, it is not a heavy-handed evangelical “Palinite” version of church, but instead it puts a much highet priority on the feeding of the poor and the development of a community for all.  It rejects violence as a national policy, and it rejects the materialism of the American born and bred “Prosperity Gospel.”
 
The stereotypes of the miserly Scottish Scrooge, or the penny-pinching and hard-assed Scotsman is no longer a fair analysis.  The hard work ethic and sense of personal responsibility is still a strong hallmark of modern Scotland, but I would venture to say that the more vicious and selfish strains of that ideology either withered away or left for other shores over the past 3 centuries.  What remains is a peope that is conscientious of their environment and each other.  They protest the human rights abuses of ANY nation (the US, Israel, England, Russia, China, etc), and they reject any notions of Western intellectual superiority or imperial domination of other cultures.  Even today, the Scots are marching in London against the “austerity” measures being imposed from Westminster.  And today, every single Scottish city and municipality has joined in the Earth Hour shutdown – the first and only nation in the world to have 100% voluntary participation for this event.
 
We may live in America, but we can remember that some of our greatest heroes and inspiration in early American history came from Scotland, and we can be renewed and inspired again by their current solutions to the new challenges of our modern world.
 

9/11 Doesn’t Have To Be a Call to Arms

8:50 am in Uncategorized by marsdragon

9/11. It evokes so many responses from different people.

Rudy Giulliani sees it as his claim to fame. Glenn Beck likewise saw his career go from failed Morning Zoo Top 40 jockey to Talking Head Fear Monger Extraordinaire.

Neocons saw this as the ultimate Machiavellian pretext for Endless War and the dawn of the Orwellian Police State (late by only 17 years).

The anti-Muslim folks saw the perfect opportunity to create a new Crusade. And the radicals within Islam saw a chance for the Clash of Civilizations that they and the religious zealots of Christianity and Judaism had also long yearned for.

The Woodstock Generation that had witnessed the brutality of Kent State, Detroit Riots, and the nightmare of Vietnam soon realized that Deja Vu was not just a personal experience, but would soon become a National and Collective one.

Without further ado, the Neocons, Giullianis, and Glenn Becks of the world would quickly give the Taliban and Al Quaeda of the world a perfect recruiting blitz by initiating wars with no basis. And in the end, all these parties got the one thing they had always yearned for: The End of the United States Constitution.

We lost our 1st Amendment (the Free Press became an embedded propoganda machine, the right to protest was turned into Sedition Lists compiled by Military Intelligence units against American citizens, and the right to be a practicing Muslim was turned into a Scarlet Letter of Shame or a license for the state to harass and profile and persecute, with that once "free" press now adding vitriolic fuel to the fires of hate).

We lost our 4th Amendment (the protection against unreasonable searches was replaced with warrantless wiretapping by the US and foreign intelligence services, the state now engaging in extrajudicial renditions/kidnapping, and secret imprisonment in Polish, Italian, German, Egyptian and Jordanian prisons)

We lost our 5th Amendment (the not to be "deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law" was replaced with the right of the state to take all those things under the rubric of "Commander in Chief" of America gets to do what he wants because he "Is the law" crap.)

We lost our 6th Amendment ("In all criminal prosecutiosn, the accused shall enjoy the right to a SPEEDY and PUBLIC TRIAL, by an IMPARTIAL JURY… and TO BE INFORMED of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him…" being replaced with "we will use military tribunals, Presidential Assassinations, and Private Mercenaries against US and other civilians" policies).

We lost our 8th Amendment (The right against cruel and unusual punishment was replaced with the right to TORTURE, MAME, RAPE, and KILL all suspects in custody, regardless of nationality or citizenship).

We kept our 2nd Amendment rights, with added interpretation, to ensure maximum armament of the population. But in some people’s eyes, the Constitution only comprised the 2nd and 10th Amendments. The rest was to be eliminated anyway. (Particularly the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments…).

This was what the enemies of the United States had always wanted. The ripping apart of our Constitution. The desecration of our freedoms, our liberties, and our democracy. It has been replaced by a Corporatist regime, where the Constitution no longer exists. We could say that the enemies of the US have already won.

Is that what 9/11 is supposed to be about? I don’t think so.

As readers of my diaries and comments may have realized, I am somewhat disillusioned with religion in general and the use of God and Faith to DIVIDE and WAGE WAR. So, I prefer to look for less conventional sources of spiritual inspiration. John Denver’s music is one of them.

There are 3 songs in this clip that when listened together, tell a different story of America. They tell me about an America that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin don’t remember, or don’t want anyone else to remember. They tell me about a different way to see 9/11. Although all 3 songs were written and recorded decades before 9/11, they speak to us now in a timeless fashion. The first is called "Rhymes and Reasons", the second is "The Eagle and the Hawk" and the third is "Take Me Home, Country Roads." I only parse through the first one below. The other two can speak for themselves.

RHYMES AND REASONS

"the fear that is within you now, it seems to never end."
Probably because people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and even many Democrats like to keep pounding into our heads that "Terrorism" is around the corner and that "Muslims" are the boogeyman.

"and the dreams that have escaped you, and the hope that you’ve forgotten"
The dreams and hopes we have lost are the list of Constitutional Rights that have been stripped away, and the communities of faith that have become recruiting grounds for HATRED and FEAR.

"and you wonder where we’re going; where’s the RHYME and where’s the REASON"
This is the current state of the American electorate. People have lost faith in all politicians, institutions, and legal and civic processes in this nation. People are asking this very question now more than ever.

"it is here we must begin to seek the wisdom of the children"
In all our fear and loathing, we are forgetting our children. We have saddled them with debt for generations, and we are creating our own American "Madrasas" of all religious stripes, where the "other" is feared and hated. We are destroying our children and robbing them of their innocence and kind nature. I don’t believe that children are born into sin and evil. They are raised into it. But we can learn from them in a way.

"their laughter and their loveliness could clear a cloudy day, like the music of the mountains and the colors of the rainbow, they’re a promise of the future and a blessing for today"
That is what we can learn from the children. We can remember what its like to love one another, to laugh, and to enjoy the beauty of the diverstiy in our world, not fear and hate that diversity. Everyone who thinks we should "bomb Iran" has not tasted the richness of its cuisine, appreciated the complexity of its poetry and music, or touched and felt the artistry of its weavers and painters. Iran is not just some Mordor-like realm of ash and evil. Its a land of history, beauty and inspiration. The same is true for Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, China, Korea, Venezuela, or anywhere else where Hatemongers demand that we export Death and War to.

"Though the cities start to crumble and the towers fall around us"
In memory of those who fell on that fateful day. A tragedy of unspeakable proportions.

"the sun is slowly fading and it’s colder than the sea"
As we desecrate this world of ours in pursuit of wealth and power, and as we hasten to a nuclear armageddon in the name of different "Gods" whose jealousies and demand for hegemony inspire such insanity, we do well to remember that when the skies are blackened by pollution and nuclear ash, the sun will fade and the sea will grow cold, literally, as well as figuratively for all of us.

"IT IS WRITTEN from the desert to the mountains they shall lead us, by the hand and by the heart, they will comfort you and me"
Again, remember that in our children we can find that innocence again. This may seem idealistic to some people, but what are we if we fail to uphold our ideals? Do we quit because they are hard to attain? That is why they are called IDEALS. We strive for them. No matter how short we fall of them.

"In their innocence and trusting they will teach us to be free"
Quite a different narrative than the one Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are peddling right now. The Mosque-burners and ChristoFascists are more willing to tell us that "Social Justice" is evil, Mosques are temples of death and that America is for non-heretical Christians and Orthodox Jews first, all others second. We witness elements of the Mormon Church, themselves objects of scorn and ridicule by the Religious Right, racing to prove their racist and bigoted bona fides to that Religious Right. Instead of taking the bigotry against them and using that as inspiration to champion the causes of the LGBT community, the Muslim community, the Latino community, they instead pay outrageous sums of tax-free Church money to out-bigot their own detractors on the right. Division, Hatred, and Fear are the main threads of the current Zeitgeist in America. I prefer the lyrics above that Jonn Denver sings as alternative to this.

"the song that I am singing is a prayer to nonbelievers; come and stand beside us; we can find a better way"
I can’t say it any better. If the religions of man will embrace hatred, fear, and division, and will preach that Social Justice is evil but the Ayn Randian "I am rich because God favors me" Prosperity Gospel garbage, then I will reject those religions in favor of this one that a kind man now long departed sang long ago.

So, today on 9/11, I remember the fallen, both in the towers and those who died trying to rescue them. I don’t want to get lost in theories about how it happened, why it happened, or who did it. While valid and important for another time and another forum, perhaps today we focus on the fact that it did happen. And that as a nation and a society and a human species, we should choose friendship over fear, love over hatred, forgiveness over revenge. Instead of demolishing one Muslim nation after another, we should choose to learn more about Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, Druidism, and Paganism. Maybe we should forget the nonsense of DIVISION and embrace the unity of DIFFERENCES. 9/11 does not have to become "America is Superior to all Others" day. It can be "We are all Humanity" Day.