by Ed Mattson
Last week I wrote about how many of the things we grew up with and made America the greatest nation on earth are simply disappearing right before our very eyes. History will be the final judge if the changes are good or bad, but no one can doubt that changes will continue far into the future and that some are bound to have detrimental effects on America’s place in history.
The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, and set the stage for a government, the likes of which the world had never experienced. From the words of the Declaration of Independence:
“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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…etc, etc.
…to the words of Margaret Thatcher:
“Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy”…
…and Benjamin Franklin, in September, 1787 responding to a lady in a crowd, who, at the close of the Constitutional Convention, called out, “Mr. Franklin! What kind of a government have you given us?…responded, “A Republic, madam, if you can hold on to it!”
So, while our world is rapidly changing all around us; while our manufacturing base is seeking refuge from high taxes and regulation by moving off-shore; while our politically elite in Washington continue to ingratiate themselves in salaries, benefits, and suspiciously-gained wealth; while those working in the government bureaucracy rake in salaries and benefits twice what the private sector is able to achieve; and while a certain segment of our citizens are asking for more and more entitlement programs through the most egregious “hand-out” programs we have ever seen, those of us in the working class are left to pick-up the tab for party to which we weren’t even invited.
Washington has tuned-out, like Nero fiddling while Rome was burning, to the 50% of the population that makes America work. The politicians and all those inside the Beltway are becoming untouchable and impervious to the needs of the country. The Constitution is being subverted by the administration, and the “limited powers” provided by the Bill of Rights, are becoming subject to interpretation by a Supreme Court whose Justice Elena Kagan refuses to recuse herself is an obvious “conflict of interest” case.
- Her bias on the heathcare issue should warrant her recusal. Not doing so is a miscarriage of justice.
Strong words I know. Don’t believe me? Show me the Constitutionality of the so-called Czars, which have been granted the power equal to or greater than the President’s Cabinet, yet were not Senate-approved. And who can ignore the conflict of interest argument regarding Justice Elena Kagan. I don’t have to make the argument but will rely on the words of Eric Segall, a liberal constitutional law professor for more than 20 years, and a loyal Democrat:
First the law: A federal statute requires that any “justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself/herself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Federal law also requires that a judge recuse himself/herself if the judge previously served in governmental employment “and in that capacity participated as a counsel, advisor, or material witness concerning the proceeding or has expressed an opinion”.
As many have pointed out, there are legitimate arguments that these rules point to recusal. Was Kagan a “counsel” or “adviser” on this issue? We know that she was on an e-mail exchange between her top deputy, Neal Katyal, and Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, about a meeting to discuss the litigation strategy for the ACA litigation (Affordable Care Act) , and lawyers in her office would be present. We also know she attended at least one meeting where the litigation was discussed. It is of course possible that she personally stayed out of those discussions. We don’t know how fully Kagan was involved because the White House has not released all of the relevant emails about the matter. We might never know, but that lack of full disclosure certainty points to recusal, because it raises serious doubts.
Kagan also wrote an e-mail to Laurence Tribe, a famous Harvard constitutional law professor who was also working for the administration at the time the law passed, in which she said, “I hear they have the votes, Larry!” The email’s subject line was “fingers and toes crossed today!”
Would these two constitutional law giants celebrate the passing of a law they believed violated the Constitution? Professor Tribe has since given many public statements that he believes the law is fully constitutional. Certainly, had she written to him, “Larry, this constitutional law finally passed,” she would have had to recuse. The issue becomes whether the email consists of an expression of opinion “concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.” Sounds like a biased opinion if there ever was one.
As we watch our liberties and freedoms fade into history we also watch and as we seem powerless to restrain government any longer, we are also subject to losing a grasp on America that we have grown accustomed to over the years. It is almost like being pulled toward the sea by a strong undertow in the surf. Secret deals with the crony capitalists, all veils of transparency clouded by backroom legislation, closed door hearings, and side dealings with unions and special interest groups stifle our hopes of participating in the American Dream. Yes, to a lot of people the problems are the fault of those who have opted for dropping out of school, substance abuse, and running afoul of the law, but for the majority of hardworking Americans we seem to be on a treadmill of life. For most veterans, it’s like we are closing the book on a chapter in history
Along with the Post Office, the check, the newspaper, the written book, the land-line telephone, and the transformation of music, television, our privacy, and the manner in which we store information, is changing beyond recognition.
I can remember the days when we had “rabbit ear” antennas, a second channel knob for UHF stations, and reception in black and white only. Today there are more stations than anyone can estimate…90% I’ve never watched. Cable and satellite have replaced antennas, and one can only see black and white on the “noslogic” oriented stations or the American Movie Classic station.
Television, known as the “small screen”, made household names out of many actors and actresses that never made it to the big screen (movies), and there was a day when soap operas were a way of life for mothers at home. Today everyone in the family (if they can find a job) is working just to make ends meet. Television became the golden age of revenue for CBS, ABC, and NBC, as well as for local independent stations which catered to local programs of interest, and many families became so dependent on TV that the family dinner table was replaced with “TV-trays” and microwave dinners.
Ah yes…but this too is changing. Revenues to the networks are down dramatically with the exception to the Super Bowl. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. Kids no longer come home from schools and play outdoors. They are playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Much of this is due to the fact that it has become dangerous for kids to play outside unsupervised…too many predators. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator, and there are so many ridiculous “reality programs” that seem geared to filled the void between the ears without any reason or substance. Cable and satellite rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes taking up more air time than the programming.
Even the mainstream video outlets like Blockbuster and Video Gallery are going the way of the horse-drawn buggy. With the price of gasoline in the four dollar range, late fees doubled in recent years, and so little time to devote to quality family time, who wants to spend an hour running down to rent a movie? People are choosing the option of Netflix or getting a video from Red Box when they do their grocery shopping…convenience, convenience, convenience. Were it not for sports programming and the need to fall asleep with the TV on, we could just about eliminate the TV forever, except that the new flat screen versions just look neat filling the blank space on the wall!
8. Information, please:
Many of the older Americans, and all of us know some, that simply do not want anything to do with computers and have turned thumbs down to email and the Internet. In such a high tech world, these folks must surely see the changes of the world spinning by at elliptical speeds. With most all information storage going 100% automated, the cost to store information manually in card indexes, books, safe-deposit boxes, or under the mattress, has driven the cost of archiving information through the roof. Not only is it harder to source but can even be outdated before you actually find what you’re looking for.
Just as most of us got used to using the computer and storing “stuff” on the hard drive, CD, DVD, and thumb-drives, such technology is being replaced with “virtual storage”. In fact we are entering an era where information will be stored out in Internet cyberspace with computers directly tied to the Internet the minute they are turned on. Some call this “cloud technology” or “cloud services”, and you will end-up paying some service provider a monthly fee just to store and access information that used to be private. The convenience of accessing the information and services is remarkably quick and available anytime with just a handheld device which doubles as a portable phone. Unfortunately, along with the convenience one must question just how safe all that information really is. I think we give up a lot of privacy with such a service, but then there are those who think I am just nostalgic for the “good old days”.
9. Is privacy a thing of the past?
If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be PRIVACY. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway. There was just the announcement that government and private sector employers may get the ability to get your Facebook password, just to see who you are associating with prior to being considered for a job. Man…talk about “Big Brother” and the future as foretold in George Orwell’s book 1984…he just missed by a few years calling that shot!
Medical records are supposed to be private, yet we have seen that medical records are open to the public on many occasions. This is particularly true for veterans who end up in legal proceedings as they petition to the Veterans Administration for benefits. As more and more doctors and hospitals automate medical records, and if and when they too will be stored out there in the clouds of cyberspace, we can kiss any assumption of privacy goodbye. I can imagine, with Obamacare all but certain to be upheld by a “loaded” and biased Supreme Court, that the thousands of lawsuits that will come about as a result of disproportionate care that is all but guaranteed to emanate from its enactment, it will be the last nail in the privacy coffin.
With cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone, you can be sure that 24/7, “They” will know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. Call that nostalgia if you wish, but I can’t remember being in the Marine Corp to defend such a breech of privacy.