We, the People, on Giving up Our Basic Freedoms: “Habeas Corpus,” Who Needs it, Anyway?

Enablers.  That’s what we have become, alright.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.  We Americans have been a nation that watched baseball, football, and failed to pay attention.  We did not know much about government and did not have time to study it beyond high school courses in history and government.  Government bores us as much as it did in high school.  Our litmus test for government and even truth has come to be something that sounded good, sounded right to us on the television.  Talking heads told us what to believe, who to vote for, and ultimately who we are.  And voting for actors who winked and smiled at the camera (remember the Gipper?) were elected to high office to sit in the White House for 8 years, just because they made us feel good.  They held the voters in the palm of their hands.  With no credentials necessary to govern.  And with less than average IQ’s.

Subsequent presidents like George W. Bush had no credentials, either.  Many believe to this day that the US Supreme Court and James Baker, Houston attorney, helped him steal the 2000 election from Al Gore.  But the new criteria for voting for a candidate had morphed again.  Now it became cool to vote for someone you would like to have a beer with.  A good ole boy, you know.  So anyway, Bush was declared president when Chief Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court stopped the Florida presidential recount in the 2000 election.

America had embarked on a new frontier.  Truth was now mangled in favor of what feels good.  Swashbuckling became the mantra of the new president.  And when al Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers and brought them down, Bush, the instant war president, came into being.  We became a nation that collectively changed the words, “French fries” to “freedom fries” to scorn France and give them the back of our hand.  Why?  Because France would not allow us to fly our jet fighters and bombers over French real estate to drop 500-pounders and other ordinance on Iraq.  Why?  Because our president, then Bush, told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction pointed at us.  And that he was in conspiracy with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to destroy us.  It proved to be a lie told when it was known to be a lie, but we Americans enabled the self-appointed Decider to get away with it.  Shock and Awe became a morbid reality.  And we stayed and occupied Iraq and kept our forces there longer in a ground war that lasted longer than any war in our history.  But wait.  That’s old news many will tell you.  It’s 2015.  Lots of water has washed under the bridge.  Life goes on.  People have short memories.  After Bush’s 2 terms in the White House he got to build his presidential library in Dallas, and no one remembers any of the history of why so many American soldiers and innocent Iraqi citizens were killed and wounded.  In Bush’s playing the “revenge” card by falsely blaming Iraq and Saddam Hussein, for the 911 attack on the Twin Towers.

Did we ever stop to think about who we had become?  We became a world menace with vengeance on the brain that was more powerful than any other country, and we used brute force to rid the world of the un-seeable enemy, Terrorism.  Thirteen years after Bush delivered shock and awe to Iraq and its people the country is in a shambles with terrorist groups running wild and blowing up what remains of Iraq and its people.  So, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “Are we better off?”  For having attacked Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein?  If so, how?  And does it matter?  Maybe.  But we won’t think about it today.  We have become accustomed to holding the new office of world police. New roads have led us to other places in time. And Americans no longer think about whether we were right or wrong in our actions that are past.  We have learned nothing from history.  As long as we are still safe from terrorism coming to our shores, we are okay with it.  And this complacency enables government, Republican or Democratic to go on doing what we are doing.  It’s the way of things.  Our collective IQ is probably below 92.

We voters have become a nation of enablers who stand by in idle ignorance while our president and Congress trash our laws, attack countries, take suspects out unemotionally with drone aircraft and Hell Fire Missiles, and keep maybe a million soldiers stationed around the world as our world police force.  We don’t protest or object to tax dollars spent on war either.  It’s all play money, whether borrowed or in hard cash, so who cares?  Just about anything goes with us new Americans who enable our leaders to engage us and our country in war.  For the common good, you see.  To keep our shores safe from terrorists and harm, of course.  And we enable our leaders to do whatever they wish.  They no longer fear us at the election booth.  They can take care of the voters now with smooth-as-silk media ads that have no requirement of truth or honor.  All it takes is money.  Even the Supreme Court ruled that you can now buy any candidate of your choice, so why get your panties in a wad?

Obama is on his last lap as a two-term president.  It’s been 6 years, and we still have some of the scars.  He never closed the notorious Guantanamo Base in Cuba where we hold terrorist suspects because we really don’t know what to do with them under our American justice system.  Our own right to habeas corpus has not been restored as Obama promised to do, if elected the first time.  We can still be whisked away to a foreign country without knowing who our accuser is or the nature of our crime and the charges against us.

The extra $4 Trillion Bush borrowed and spent during his 8 year term, we enabled big time.  We were so frightened we enabled it and Congress voted for massive amounts in war spending and security.  Even “Off Budget” billions of dollars was okay because we enabled it to be so.  The Department of Homeland Security was born at a tremendous new cost.  Billions of dollars have been borrowed and spent since 911, and this year’s HS budget is a mere $60.9 Billion.  Fear and terrorism has made the Military Industrial Complex proud.  And rich.  No wonder Raytheon gets to charge over $1.6 million for every Tomahawk Missile it sells to Uncle Sam.  Our fear is the enabling force behind such insane expenditures.  Though Obama has had a rough road to clean up some of the fiscal messes Bush created from borrowing and spending, he has continued the tradition, and we have stayed true to our commitment to enabling such fiscal madness.  We borrow and spend to new and dangerous heights never imagined.  Our National Debt is now at $18 Trillion and might reach as high as $20 Trillion by next year.  Quite a formidable figure but who’s counting?  And that very attitude enables Congress and the White House to keep on borrowing and spending.  But Irony comes in the form of a newly-elected Republican majority in both houses.  While mindless spending will continue for Defense, the new Congress has promised to cut social programs to the bone.  They opened up with Social Security cuts.  Our poor Veterans are in the crosshairs now, as the war-spending continues.  Many of them have been turned away and forgotten (Don’t get me started!).

Yes, Obama made many promises.  Yet he still affixes “signing statements” to bills submitted by Congress (which changes them and throws the legislative branch under the bus………….as well as the checks and balances provided for in the Constitution).  But who cares?  Does our short memories of Obama promising the American people to stop already with the cute little signing statements to bills, mean anything to us?  Not really.  Who can remember?  We are safe from terrorism, so why make waves?  Why question it if our leaders can keep terrorism away from our shores?  Polls tell us that that’s what the voters want.  So it generates another era of eternal war when nobody objects to leaders breaking our laws and throwing the Constitution in the fire.  What did Cheney call it?  Perpetual war? 

Bush wiretapped our phones, secretly monitored our bank accounts, monitored our email and data-mined our internet browsing and websites visited.  Sadly, Obama continues the tradition.  That may be okay, you say, because you don’t intend on breaking any laws, so why should you worry?  Well what about that Enabling Act Congress handed Bush on a silver platter? And Obama vowed to change, if elected? It preempted many basic rights under the Constitution.  It still does.  It was a benchmark in our history.  The NSA goons or CIA spooks could just say that a person has ties to terrorists.  No court hearing, no charges, no phone calls, no lawyer is afforded you once you are placed on the list of suspects, nothing resembling rational thought is necessary.  This authority was given to the Executive in a very loose interpretation of the Patriot Act, passed just after 911.  And such an act was draconian and reminiscent of the Gestapo, but Americans in the clutch of fear insisted on knowing they were safe from terrorists.  So this new draconian Patriot Act came to us as a result of our own enabling of those in power to do so.  We just didn’t mind giving up some of our basic freedoms to privacy and other basic rights. 

So this was but another promise that Obama, if elected, gave us.  He would restore the freedoms taken from the American people under Bush, the Decider, and take aim at the Patriot Act.  It never happened.  Obama sought to enhance the Patriot Act and give the president even more powers to spy on us.  Anybody get where all this is going?  Like in the evolution of liberty (or lack thereof, maybe)?  Could we agree to call it a “Devolution?”

It’s true that Bush, his NSA goons and his enabling, immoral Congress intended to strangle truth and to trounce upon the concept of innocence or guilt; but Obama has acquired even more powers of secret surveillance to keep us safe, you know. He approved of enhancing the Patriot Act to give the president more covert powers of snooping.  And he as the Unitary Executive, uses them, you can bet on it.  And Edward Snowden, a whistle-blower in exile, is sought after by Obama and other government leaders with a passion.  Jut for telling the truth.  Is this burning desire to silence truth-tellers a necessary part of the job when it comes to the White House and Congress?  Why all the secrecy?  Are we still at war with Oceania?

But back to broken freedoms and promises due to our lazy enabling of our elected officials.  Take Habeas Corpus (as if it still existed).  That’s right; still, you get no appeal, no day in court, no habeas corpus.  Why not?  Why would Obama continue to use the very techniques to govern/rule a people from which he promised to abstain?  Well still (thanks to Bush and Obama) we can be placed on the “list” at the whim of persons unknown.  Still, these unknown people in the National Security Agency can get you automatically designated as an Enemy Combatant.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Believe it.  According to Molly Ivins, years ago, a cable provider took an order from a customer to subscribe him to the Al Jazeera Channel.  The Cable Provider was picked up by our government as a suspect.  I hope they let him/them go.  But since then, the new law in the president’s hands has given him the ultimate power.  You are considered to be guilty if accused.  That’s right, no trial, and no due process under the law.  You just disappear like a genie in a bottle.  No one ever hears about it. 

We must stop the madness and pay attention.  No one has the right to hurt other innocent people, plain and simple.  That’s how a country as great as ours has come to the brink of acting like a police state we used to abhor, like when Russia invaded Poland and put a wall around Berlin!

And oh, the platitudes.  Many have parroted the clichés of “My country, right or wrong.” Or “My president, right or wrong.”  What baloney!  Teddy Roosevelt, a great president with an IQ higher than 92, said: 

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

"Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star", 149
May 7, 1918