Friday, December 19, 2014

Into the Abyss

Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
—Job 5:7
Don’t Look Down! [Flickr page]

At the close of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got–a Republic or a Monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”1

And for a little over two hundred years, we managed to do so. But it is now unraveling before our eyes. The government is no longer accountable to its citizens for much of anything. And many of those citizens are too demoralized and misinformed to even care.

Black men are shot and choked to death, and their police killers get off without any consequence? Those dark thugs must have had it coming, says the right-wing echo chamber to itself inside its comfortable white suburbs.

The NSA is snooping on the communications of every American citizen without warrant or cause, against the clear wording of the Fourth Amendment? I’ve got nothing to hide, says the mass of boot-licking authoritarians, and their elected representatives keep the surveillance duly funded as if Edward Snowden had never breathed a word.

Rough Weather [Flickr page]

Rep. Justin Amash, one of the few exceptional members of the U.S. House of Representatives with some principles about the Constitution he swore to uphold and defend, said on his Facebook timeline that the new Intelligence Authorization Act, H.R. 4681, contains “one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative: It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.”2 And it passed the House 325-100.

The CIA tortures people, sometimes to the point of death, and attempts to dodge and bully to cover it up? The only person charged, who will ever be charged, is the whistleblower. Support our brave men and women in uniform, say the bootlickers, confident that they will never have a feeding tube shoved up their ass in a wet dungeon.

Again, Rep. Amash (the man is a Republican!):

It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve begun reading the CIA torture report released by the Senate intelligence committee. It documents inhumane acts committed by representatives of our government. Members of our intelligence community have extraordinarily difficult jobs, and the rank-and-file employees serve our country with distinction. It should sadden all of us that a few in the intelligence community have cast a shadow on the important work of so many.

“Most troubling for a free country such as ours,” he continues, “is the repeated, perhaps systematic deception committed by senior public servants against elected officials who are entrusted with supervising their work. The nature of intelligence work requires certain secrecy, but it is unconscionable for senior appointees to hide essential details of interrogation from Congress and even the president.”3

The Constitution for which Franklin and Jefferson and the rest of those brave idealists risked their lives, the document that brought reverential tears to my eyes when I looked at a leaf of it under glass at the National Archives one year–is becoming nothing more than a quaint relic. Like the millions of Bibles that sit unread on shelves and pulpits, it is now mostly ignored by those who have sworn allegiance to it. Except, in both cases, there are a handful of selected portions still convenient for the party line.

Click on individual images to enlarge, or check out their photo pages in my Flickr photostream. They are Copyright © 2014-15 Edwin A. Suominen. You may freely use them for non-commercial purposes, with attribution, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.