Saturday, June 10, 2006


The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with rights. All men are given equal rights. You shouldn't forget that the reason they put it that way was because they were declaring, once and for eternity, that kings and nobles didn't have the extra, God given, rights that they claimed.

Equality was an excellent grabber, the part of the document you remember even if you never go to the list of grievances. Thomas Jefferson's intentions were good, he really did believe it. Some of the others who signed the paper thought so to, though some, not so much. Practice was a different matter. The equal rights of slaves, women and the landless were breached immediately and continually until those groups insisted on their own equal rights. We've come a long way, thanks to them. Now, before we start going backwards, it's time to settle up on some more of these equal rights before some new claims of "rights" swamp us.

A president is a citizen with rights equal to those of the most destitute bum on the street. Equal rights. His office doesn't give him more rights. Equal rights are endowed by the creator, or for the secularists among us, by the fact of birth. Even a massive majority of the voters can't increase those. It can allow privileges and it does. It is foolish when those are more than necessary to do the job and that point was passed a long time ago. Since September 11th the country has gone temporarily all gushy and monarchic and has given Bush and Cheney massive perks and dangerous privileges, but those aren't rights. A president isn't drafted and they aren't crowned. They are given a job and our giving someone a job doesn't confer rights, it assigns freely requested responsibilities.

The recent news about the massive intellectual con job to impose one-Republican-man-rule on us uses the language of rights to describe the sleazy framework of power grabs which the likes of Samuel Alito have spent their careers erecting. But it's an effort that starts with a lie. Being president is a job, it's a responsiblity. It doesn't give George W. Bush the right to replace the enumerated responsibilities of the legislature with pieces of paper that members of the Federalist Society have handed him to sign. Anyone who says they believe that the legacy MBA, who never managed anything except into the ground, understands these signing statements is a liar. That goes for anyone who uses that pretense as an unstated premise in a discussion.

This effort, hatched in well appointed sitting rooms in law schools and other charming venues, is one of the dirtiest plots against democracy in our history. The plotters are all genteel and have clean fingernails so they sell well on TV. They are even well coached for mini-dramas with the help of senators of their own party to sway public opinion. They've got the stage craft down and with our winner-take-all, set term system temporary deception is good enough for their purposes. So we can't waste any more time, we have to call the plot what it really is right now. It is a power grab to to destroy the rights and freedoms of us all for the benefit of a privileged elite. We have to say it over and over again with enough variation to hold the attention of a distracted public.

You would think that this kind of power grab would alarm our press a lot more than it has. A very few of them like Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe do a service to American as great as any Thomas Paine ever did. But the electronic media, the most influential part of the media, while mentioning it seems to be unenthusiastic about saving democracy. What I've seen and heard goes from what passes as "balanced" to outright propaganda favoring the plot.

This is a defining issue for the media. By their acts you will know them. Our democracy hasn't been in this kind of danger since the Civil War. Not the movie, not even the documentary. The real thing, here, now, real.

Those who support the power grab or who play the "balanced" game aren't going to defend rights that they have no interest in exercising. That's the only logical conclusion you can come to. They aren't a free press. They are an infotainment venture that can get along just fine under a dictator. They might even hope that a dictator will increase profits for their parent company and so the value of their stock options. Have I gone too far? Just look at how they sold us Alito, the architect of despotism.

You will be able to tell who the real free press is because this issue, if lost, will spell their deaths. Maybe literally in the fullness of time. Real members of the free press will fight this with all they've got. It is time for the owners and employees of papers, stations and in the new media to expose it. The President and the Republican party are destroying democracy. The evidence is so thick that only someone with a head even thicker will deny it. The only chance we have to defeat them is here, now.

Well said.

They aren't a free press. They are an infotainment venture that can get along just fine under a dictator.

It's a step worse that that, I think. Reporters used to see themselves as outsiders and guardians of the public interest; watchdogs, if you will.

But now, it's all about "access". Access is the new status symbol among the press; the in-crowd has it, and anyone who doesn't have it may be safely ignored. Access supposedly makes the reporter's job easier, but actually makes them into complicit shills. Worse yet, the notion that access marks the moment at which one has "arrived" makes the press completely beholden to the people they are covering. Why risk the stick when there are juicy carrots to be had?

Our press is no longer the adversarial entity it once was, whose primary power (and purpose!) derived from the need to keep people informed lest the other powers of the state remain unchecked.

Instead, today's press are the eager courtiers to the political class new aristocracy. We are in deep, deep trouble.
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