( – promoted by buhdydharma )
There have been a number of excellent posts by McJoan and KagroX at Daily Kos, among many others, over the FISA battle. We’ve all been on the crazy ride of elation/outrage, seeing our Democratic representatives capitulate over and over again to the corrupt and criminal crew currently occupying the White House, as well as their Republican henchmen in Congress.
Frankly, it’s about time for me to step off that merry-go-round.
We speak of reforming the Democratic party, and I’m very much in favor of that. Get rid of the Blue Dogs, change the way we finance political campaigns, make the party more responsive to the people. All worthy goals.
I’d like to look back for a moment, look back at America immediately after September 11, 2001.
Citizens from all over the country, be they conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, evangelical or atheist, came to New York City to help. People from around the world shared our grief and there was an outpouring of love and support that made everyone feel united against the kinds of terrorism that sought to divide us.
Of course we all know what happened next. We all know how this gang of thieves and murderers used the attacks on September 11 to divide us and promote their own foul agenda of raping and robbing our country. We all know how they used fear to grab as much power as they could – and they’re still doing it, even to this day, even as we all know what wretched crooks they are.
So that leads me to think about power, and how much power our government ought to have.
Security is a strong need in any society. We pass laws and enforce those laws to provide safety for our homes, our persons, our neighborhoods and public squares, our workplaces and our marketplaces. We don’t want robbery and murder and violence to destroy what we build and so we have police forces and a judiciary to determine guilt or innocence when a crime is committed.
Since the attacks on September 11, “security” has taken on a whole new meaning. We have seen paid mercenaries sent to Iraq with such power that they can do pretty much as they wish and not be held accountable. We have seen our intelligence agencies allowed to spy on American citizens. We have seen the rights of the individual almost completely trumped by the power of our government, both federally and locally, to use security as a means of arresting first and asking questions later.
We have seen metal detectors and cops in our schools and libraries. We are seeing a generation being brought up to believe they do not have a right to privacy if some government official believes otherwise.
And where has this power come from? Has there been a groundswell from the public shouting for our government to be able to torture, to hold folks prisoner without due process, to listen to our telephone calls and monitor what books we check out of the library, what blogs we read? Have we begged for our government to censor information we need as citizens so as to protect their own power?
No, I don’t think we have done that at all.
Power has been taken and taken and taken, and it seems there is no end in sight.
I don’t see either Democratic Presidential candidate talking about this and proclaiming that they will change this situation.
A lot of folks speak of facism. What I see is tyranny, the use of power for power’s sake and no other.
That kind of power is not easily broken.
We saw the FISA laws created after the huge abuses of power shown by the Nixon Adminstration. What we did not see was how that power was so easily regained by an unscrupulous gang of criminals who had been allowed free reign after Nixon’s resignation and were never held to account. We did not see how the laws we passed after Nixon’s reign were unable to stop this abuse of power.
And who will protest this now? Who in government is going to give back this power, proclaim outright that the purpose of government is not to control its citizenry but to facilitate democracy and liberty? That to defend our country we need not use power with a heavy hand but rather as an organic process by which the will of the people is manifest in that use?
It’s not just in our federal government that this is occurring. We have seen all throughout this land that when people gather together to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest, local police come out in force and when federal politicians visit, “free speech zones” (an Orwellian term if ever there was one) are set up, to protect the politician as though he or she were royalty rather than only a representative of the rest of us.
This tyranny will not be stopped by electing a Democrat as President of the United States of America. Nor will it be stopped by “reforming” the Democratic Party.
It will only be stopped when those who have robbed us are publicly held accountable. When each and every corporation that has profited from the deaths of our solidiers is held accountable and never again given government contracts. When each and every politician who has supported the unconstitutional abuses of torture, illegal war, and the destruction of our democratic rights is held to account and never allowed to take public office again.
I’ll just give one little example of what I am speaking of.
Just ahead of the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Milwaukee, WI passed a resolution blocking lucrative contracts for corporations cited for Katrina or Rita-related waste, fraud or mismanagement. Construction giant CH2M Hill will lose the ability to bid on nearly $30 million dollars in previously held contracts as a result of the resolution. In addition, Erie, PA also demanded action by Congress and the President on behalf of Katrina survivors.
County Supervisor Rev. Dr. James White led a successful effort to pass the first Selective Contracting Resolution with a veto proof majority at the Milwaukee Board of Supervisors on June 21.
Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. led the passing of the resolution with a unanimous vote in July.
The resolution places companies cited by the Government Accounting Office, Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and/or other appropriate entity for Katrina-Rita-related waste, fraud and/or mismanagement on a Selective Contractor list. All departments have received this list and are now declining contracts with any companies on the list until they submit to an independent investigation and return any monies gained by waste.
With just these two cities, we have already cost these companies millions of dollars in contracts: CH2M Hill alone will lose the ability to bid on nearly $30 million in public contracts that they previously held.
We are thrilled about these victories and look forward to additional cities and counties joining the effort to hold both public and private sector actors accountable! Kansas City Councilmember Terry Riley who has already introduced the KIN resolution in the City Council in Kansas City, MO, and many student organizers preparing campus divestment efforts for the fall.
There’s more, including action links. But it’s the idea of accountability and of taking back power that I am interested in for the purposes of this essay.
You can read the Resolution of the City of Atlantic City here (warning: pdf).
There’s only one thing that gets through to those people who believe they have the right to screw the rest of us – and that’s being held publicly accountable for what they have done.
Halliburton. Bechtel. Blackwater. Those corporations are the mere surface of a much deeper problem. And yes, the phone companies.
It’s all about power. Do we want our government to be able to determine where we go, how much privacy we can have, what we read, what we say and where we say it? Do we want corporations, be they local or multinational, to profit off human suffering?
Because if we don’t want that – no elected representative is going to change this kind of tyranny. Only we can do that.
There are folks leading the way in this, and we help every time we write publicly both about the horrible abuses of power going on in America as well as pointing out those in power who are standing by and allowing this tyranny to continue.
It will take all of us to stop this. No Presidential election is going to change that.