Friday, June 30, 2006

The Declaration of Independence: how far we have fallen

Front paged at ePluribus Media. Recommended at My Left Wing

With much of "flag wavin', beer guzzlin', jee-zus fearin' Murka" getting ready to shoot off some fireworks, eat some grilled meat and get all dressed up in red, white and blue to show how much they support the troops and love this country, I was thinking about the document that we really should be celebrating, or at least remembering this weekend.

And in reading the text of the Declaration of Independence it is both sad to see how far this country has gone astray from the principles contained in the Declaration of Independence and how the authors of that document would cringe to see what has happened to the country and freedoms (not "freedomTM") they fought so hard for. At the same time, it is amusing (in a sick twisted way) to see how ignorant that `Murka is when they blindly salute the flag and spew their vile hate.

So, with all that in mind, I thought that a few choice selections of the Declaration of Independence, intertwined with commentary and some "post-9/11 world" contrast would be worth putting together on a weekend where I will be doing more reflection than in most other years.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

That second paragraph really says it all. All men are created equal. Except, of course for these people. And these people. As for a form of Government becoming destructive, we need to look no further than the destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, New Orleans, Mississippi as well as most inner cities.

As for safety and happiness, well, our ports aren't too safe. Our airports aren't much safer. Our borders certainly aren't safe. And with all of the jobs outsourced, jobs lost, lower real wages, loss of health benefits, more people struggling to make ends meet and families being torn apart due to an unreasonable, unnecessary, costly and illegal war, I certainly don't think there is much happiness.

I'll skip down a bit:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

A long train of abuses and usurpations. Where to begin with about the whole "unitary president" thing? The fact that Congress is disregarded when they don't agree with Bush. Or the 750 laws disregarded by Bush's signing statements. Or the lies to Congress and the American people about yellowcake, about aluminum tubes, about Valerie Plame, about illegal wiretapping, torture or rendition. Or invading a sovereign country. The "wartime president" even though Congress never declared war. The enormous wealth transfer from the formerly middle class to the most wealthy. The altering of expert opinions, the denial of science. The leak of classified information for political gain.

So what were these abuses and usurpations that King George (and present day wannabe-king George) have done? Well back in the 1770's, King George

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.


He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.


He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.


He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

Looks like wannabe-king George used the Declaration of Independence as a guide for his administration. Rendering the military superior to civil power. Kind of like the no-bid contracts to Halliburton and the massive military spending on bigger more destructive weapons. More bombs. More powerful bombs. Missile defense that barely functions.

Obstructing the administration of justice. We can talk to Fitz about that one. Appointing judges that are extreme in their views as it relates to personal freedoms. You know, ones like Samuel Alito. Refusing to assent to laws - well that one was sort of covered above but can't be stressed enough. But we can add Congress enabling this refusal by their own refusal to hold the Executive Branch accountable for, well, just about everything. Making judges abide by his will - well we will see just how much credence he gives to yesterday's ruling on Gitmo.

Let's read on:

For protecting them [armed troops], by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:


For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:


For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:


He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.


A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

A few bad apples punished for Abu Ghraib when the ones who crafted the torture plans like Rumsfeld and Abu Gonzalez are unscathed. Rendition of suspects to be tortured overseas. Abolishing our most valuable laws - you know, like those pesky first 10 amendments. Transporting large armies (granted not necessarily foreign mercenaries) to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny. Like in Iraq. Like in Afghanistan. By torture. By using illegal banned chemical weapons. "Spreading freedom". Permanent bases in Iraq. Military bases all throughout the Middle East.

Depriving people of the benefit of trial by jury. Well, that one goes without saying. The Republican Convention in NYC where hundreds of people were illegally detained for no reason for 48 hours in a dirty holding pen. Many of whom were guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Free-speech zones. I'll mention rendition once again.

And certainly, wannabe-king George's character is marked by every act which may define a tyrant and is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Which is a perfect way to end this contrast. We have come full circle. We have a tyrant of a ruler. We have a sham of a government which certainly is no longer Of the People, By the People or For the People. Power has been abused, usurped, consolidated.

This should be remembered this weekend. How far astray we have been taken. What our country's founders did when they were in a very similar position as we now are today. How ashamed they would be to see what has become of the republic they fought so hard for.


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