Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri, the front line of Homeland Security (money)

As he walked out of Constitution Hall, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “What kind of government have you given us?” He replied, “A republic, Ma’am, if you can keep it.” Interesting that he did not say ‘if we can keep it.” I know that militaristic America assumes that our government is always at risk from the outside, but, especially considering the old man’s respect for the early days of the French revolution, I think he might have had in mind the internal threat of the rich. In our worship of all things related to the “Founding Fathers,” we often forget how few Americans the Constitution was designed for. Only land-holding white men could vote in federal elections. The Senate was elected by state legislatures. Everything else we consider to be American democracy had to be bitterly contested over many years. True the anti-Federalists insisted upon the Bill of Rights and got them. I’d say we’ve pretty much lost those rights and the second amendment (guns) is a misinterpreted, twisted menace to peaceful society. The icing on the cake for the Federal power grab, however, was the Marbury v. Madison decision in which the Supreme Court decreed that it could nullify actions of the legislative and executive branches. I admit that the arguments put forth by the Marshall court at the time are as convoluted to me as some of the philosophical arguments I used to read. Only lawyers, philosophers, and theologians can get so almighty worked up over words! The argument seems to hinge on this: you can’t have separation of powers unless the Supreme Court has this power. It was intended by the Founding Fathers, they say. Strange, isn’t it that such a powerful force was not written down in the document? After all, we have historical records of the detailed arguments that led to the compromises. Where is the proof that the Founders argued over this? The entity (nine people) in question claimed, ‘they meant for it to be this way; they just didn’t write it down.’ Gosh, I’m pretty sure that my parents meant for me to inherit their house and car, but they failed to write that in their will. How far would that argument get me in court? I remember Rush Limburger, that radio guy, spewing back in the nineties, “It’s the Supreme Court. That’s where it’s at. We’ve got to have our guys there.” Well, they do now. It makes me so mad I could spit, as my Mom would say. Mad that Senate Democrats voted in young Clarence Thomas for God’s sake! Now, the Dems cry, ‘You must reelect us or risk the damage a radical-rightist Court can sow.” We the People are faced with so much ground to regain and every step of the way Democrats have provided enough votes to carry the radical right’s agenda. The dismantling of the New Deal economic justice measures, the give-away of our public airways to big corporations, the hundreds of millions of dollars that our corporate political parties say we must spend each election cycle for advertising, the crippling taxes levied to benefit spies and their Military/Industrial/Secrecy/Prison Complex, to name a few others. Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” So much is gone and gone without a fight. At least Mr. Jefferson and others did their best to fight John Marshall in the early 1800s. Now our leaders and media pundits seem surprised all the time- ‘gosh, who could have seen that coming?’ The creation of Homeland Security combined with legislative pork barrel spending has put military equipment into the hands of the police. They don’t need to call the National Guard to quell internal situations. How could politicians and the media fain surprise that police in Ferguson, Missouri have and use military equipment? There should have been an element of control in the distribution of Homeland Security monies and We the People have not risen up against the rise of the police state. How many Americans even know that there are holding cells in many of our schools? There are some things that can’t or won’t be undone. No one is going to take back the military weapons from rural and city police. There is a mad scramble for guns and bullets in America and, if we ever enact sane gun laws, no one is going to collect those arms. The police state is set to act at will. It’s out there. We didn’t keep it well, that Republic, Mr. Franklin. Most Americans still don’t know how much they are going to miss. And so much is gone.
An after posting edit:
Here is a link to a superb article on David Swanson NAILS it. Here is a brilliant excerpt outlining reasons for the militarization of local police in the US:
  • A culture glorifying militarization and justifying it as global policing.
  • A federal government that directs roughly $1 trillion every year into the U.S. military, depriving virtually everything else of needed resources.
  • A federal government that still manages to find resources to offer free military weapons to local police in the U.S. and elsewhere.
  • Weapons profiteers that eat up local subsidies as well as federal contracts while funding election campaigns, threatening job elimination in Congressional districts, and pushing for the unloading of weapons by the U.S. military on local police as one means of creating the demand for more.
  • The use of permanent wartime fears to justify the removal of citizens' rights, gradually allowing local police to begin viewing the people they were supposed to protect as low-level threats, potential terrorists, and enemies of law and order in particular when they exercise their former rights to speech and assembly. Police "excesses" like war "excesses" are not apologized for, as one does not apologize to an enemy.
  • The further funding of abusive policing through asset forfeitures and SWAT raids.
  • The further conflation of military and police through the militarization of borders, especially the Mexican border, the combined efforts of federal and local forces in fusion centers, the military's engagement in "exercises" in the U.S., and the growth of the drone industry with the military, among others, flying drones in U.S. skies and piloting drones abroad from U.S. land.
  • The growth of the profit-driven prison industry and mass incarceration, which dehumanize people in the minds of participants just as boot camp and the nightly news do to war targets.
  • Economically driven disproportionate participation in, and therefore identification with, the military by the very communities most suffering from its destruction of resources, rights, and lives.

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