5th December 2007

Eternal Vigilance

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.- John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.)

Thomas Jefferson is commonly credited with the memorable line, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” I prefer the more nuanced version attributed to J.P. Curran as quoted above. American conservatives, notably Milton Friedman and the John Birch Society, latched onto the Jefferson “eternal vigilance” line forty years ago and more, and they used it as a weapon to hijack popular democracy in the US. Questions of indolence aside, the people of America have been less than vigilant since 1980 and they have seen an elaborate and functional government infrastructure disassembled. Tax dollars that should go to roads and schools, fresh water, and hospitals and other public works are funneled straight into corporate welfare programs propping up agribusiness and the chemical companies that feed on the corpses of the our family farms. The military-industrial complex — that public/private partnership — separates workers from their dollars and burns those dollars in the furnace of perpetual war. And an oligarchy of private wealth represented by the figureheads of the Bush family but otherwise fairly well concealed successfully siphons billions of dollars directly into their own pockets every year through financial market manipulation and outright theft, usually under the aegis of free market economics and a lessening of government controls.

That’s just a quick scan of where we are today.  What we stand to lose under the Bush administration, the Roberts Court, and the cowardly Congress dwarfs the material and environmental rape we’ve suffered so far. What we stand to lose includes the entire Bill of Rights and habeas corpus.

Frankly, this eternal vigilance bullshit is tiring. You don’t have to be indolent to let down your guard. You can just be exhausted. Summoning the emotional energy to address each of the challenges that the evil-doers lay before the people takes enormous strength. Today I twittered about SB.1959 and received feedback that it “wasn’t on the radar” of a person I had thought to be well informed. It’s already passed the house by a shameful margin, and if it passes the Senate, then essentially the Bill of Rights will be finessed out of existence. That’s not an exaggeration. Ronni Bennett has been tracking this for us, keeping it on a front burner, writing about it, bringing information forward, and receiving no credit and little feedback for it. I think her sense of what’s wrong and what needs fixing has tired her out. How can we blog about this stuff month after month, elect a Democratic congress, lay out the dangers of the Bush presidency and never make any progress, yet stay in the struggle? Ronni has done so much. She deserves a breather, but who can pick up where she leaves off?

Frank to Ronni: We need you on the job here. Daniel Ellsberg writes,

A coup has occurred. I woke up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It’s not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9/11. That’s the next coup, that completes the first.

The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution, … what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years as a model and experiment to the rest of the world – in checks and balances, limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of impeachment.

If you, like me, hope that with some Social Security, some personal savings, some house equity, maybe a modest pension, and a little freelance work you can support yourself in your old age — don’t count on it. The country’s financial system is also on the verge of collapse, and war with Iran will distract us from the inflation that will eat up those fixed income sources. The only thing we can do to change things is to DEMAND change from Congress. If we don’t start now, it will be too late by the next presidential election. It doesn’t take any great prescience to make this call with certainty, just as it didn’t take a genius to know that Afghanistan and Iraq were opening chapters in the Conservative American war without end, the “New American Century.”

When SB. 1959 passes, this blog post will be a crime. I urge you take action and protect my right to rant. More importantly, protect YOUR right to rant. And if you are of an age to have baby boomer parents or grandparents, think about this… if some dramatic change doesn’t happen soon, those boomers will be living with you because their fixed incomes won’t be sufficient for them to live in their own space.

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posted in Journalism, Politics, What Democracy Looks Like | 5 Comments

5th December 2007

United Web of Lyncherdom

Shelley has a good post with an interesting comment thread about a social network, a virtual tree, and a virtual rope. And there in the middle of the thread, surfacing links that are as creepy as a clergyman, is Miss Ann herself. Miss Ann bats her baby blues and confesses, “I’ve been guilty of inciting a mob….”

Well, no shit.

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posted in Irascible Nonsense | 0 Comments

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