Friday, July 10, 2009

The Obama administration's war against the Constitution

I really don't like the title of this post, because it is far too close to what a lot of nutjobs were writing back even during the Presidential campaign. Besides, I really don't think that President Obama is systematically continuing the Bushco policies of dismantling the civil liberties protections of the US Constitution because he is a socialist, or anti-American, or a secret Kenyan-born infiltrator.

I think he is busily hacking away at the US Constitution because he is a traditional Demopublican, Statist politician who actually views the Bill of Rights as an impediment to effective government action, and who actually believes that Americans will be more free [whatever that could possibly mean in the current context] with the government having more power to regulate virtually every aspect of our lives.

I resisted this kind of title through the repeated cases of the Obama administration supporting Bushco policies on detainees, even when the administration has mooted ideas like execution without trial, indefinite detention, refusing to acknowledge the authority of the Courts, refusing to release prisoners acquitted via trials at their own military tribunals, eliminating Miranda rights, and issuing signing statements in which he refuses to comply with laws as written by Congress.

Now White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel insists that the government has the power to nullify the Constitutional rights of American citizens without following any due process. He was speaking in regard to the controversial DHS "No-fly" list:

“if you’re on that no-fly list, your access to the right to bear arms is cancelled, because you’re not part of the American family; you don’t deserve that right. There is no right for you if you’re on that terrorist list.”

Don't believe it? You can view the video here.

We should take a moment to recall that the "No-fly" list now includes at least one million American citizens, the overwhelming majority (probably in the 98-99% category) have neither been charged nor convicted of any crime. The Department of Homeland Security admits that thousands of people have been placed on the list by mistake, although you cannot find out if you are on the list, have no ability to challenge the evidence that got you placed on the list, and have no legal recourse of any kind once the government decides to place you on the list.

I have chronicled these excesses--and others--during the first six months of the Obama administration, and have watched his supporters consistently ignore them [one of the few exceptions to this in the local blogosphere being Dana Garrett, who always retains the courage of his convictions no matter who is in power].

I have also watched Republicans [who generally lacked the courage to stand up to the Bush administration on the same issues] give President Obama a pass on continuing to whittle away at our Constitutional protections. They've painted themselves into their own particular corner, since it would be politically quite difficult at this point to come out against continued movement in a direction that they have previously approved [unless, like Nancy Pelosi] they didn't actually hear the briefings they were attending.

The matter is actually quite simple: in six months President Obama has moved from extending unconstitutional powers assumed by Bushco into the realm of having his Chief of Staff declare the unilateral Executive power to nullify entire amendments in the Bill of Rights.

Some sensible liberals and progressives who visit here (Perry and A1 among them) have expressed disappointment regarding these developments [A1 has even announced an unwillingness to support Obama in 2012], but for the most part the mantra from our most strident friends has been variations of Bush broke it; Obama needs more time; give him a chance; wait and see; he can't afford to be seen as a surrender monkey on terrorism.

Meanwhile they are busy explaining that the greatest threat to America is not the Obama administration's unconstitutional actions, but rightwing rhetoric about them, while turning a blind eye toward the overtly eliminationist rhetoric of administration shils like Paul Krugman, who declares Congresscritters who vote against the Obama administration to be traitors.

Enough is enough.

Too many Americans sat back in the shadow of 9/11 and allowed the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, and a wide variety of unconstitutional pieces of legislation to be passed in order to assauge our fears of another terrorist attack. In other words, as Al Gore so famously said, He played on our fears.

Well, government by campaign and catastrophe continues unabated in the new administration, even though the fears they now play on revolve around health care, bank bail-outs, global warming, and unemployment.

It is actually time to do something in defense of the US Constitution.

You could do worse, at this point, than donating to the American Civil Liberties Union or, two organizations doing yeoman work on virtual shoestrings either to halt the Obama administration war on civil liberties or expose the truth behind our foreign policy and the so-called War on Terror.

You could start pressuring your elected officials to do something about the "No-fly" list, or to take a public stand on the many administration violations of constitutional law.

You could actually ask tough questions of candidates running for office.

You could consider voting for Libertarian or even Green candidates in order to remind the two wings of the Demopublican Party that failure to support the US Constitution has consequences (at least I hope it does).

You could even (perish the thought) use your blog and your slowly evaporating First Amendment rights to act like you actually give a damn about the Constitution, or just admit that you were posturing prior to the last election, that you really don't care, and it was all about politics and getting your party into power.

It is time. It may be past time.

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