Saturday, July 20, 2013

Nonfunctional. Dead. Kaput. RIP Democracy.

Even Jimmy Carter, who knows a good malaise when he sees one, recognizes that the U.S. has "no functioning democracy."

The former president and Chris Hedges, a reformed journalist who now writes the painful truth about our riven nation, both mentioned this fact recently. Hedges, who with other litigants sought a court's protection against persecution of journalists for such truth-telling, lamented that - having already been betrayed by Congress and the President - citizens can no longer rely on the courts for justice, either. Three strikes and democracy's out.

July, when we celebrate our independence from the English monarchy, has been a bad month for truth, justice and rule of law.

Besides the court's ruling against Hedges et al, we have witnessed:

--The acquittal of George Zimmerman by a jury of six white women in Florida.  These "peers" ruled that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was perfectly justified in shooting to death a 17-year-old black boy named Trayvon Martin who was wearing a hoody and carrying Skittles in a white neighborhood at night. Their logic was that Zimmerman, who had a gun, feared for his life at the hands of Martin, who was unarmed and whose hands, in fact, bore no trace of Zimmerman's DNA. 

--The refusal by the military officer in charge of his court martial to dismiss the "aiding the enemy" charge against Pfc. Bradley Manning. The lady colonel ruled that Manning did in fact "knowingly" aid the (unnamed) enemy when he released a trove of covered-up government documents to WikiLeaks. They disclosed, among other unsavory things, that U.S. forces have committed war crimes in their waging of endless war around the globe. Citizens, it seems to me, are entitled to know such things in a democracy. We laughed when a character in Walt Kelly's comic strip "Pogo" said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."  Nobody's laughing now, least of all those who believed, like Manning, that the truth shall make us free.

--The governor of Texas signed the most Draconian anti-abortion law in the land. It has already forced many women's health clinics to close.As in the Zimmerman trial, race is the looming specter here.  White middle aged males are telling black pregnant teenagers they have to bring their pregnancies to term because "life is precious." Well, precious in the womb, anyway.  When those black baby boys are old enough to wear a hoody and buy Skittles, they're fair game for any white whacko with a handgun.

--A United States Department of Justice lawyer filed a brief in court alleging that government use of drones to kill American citizens abroad was legal -- because the Attorney General and the President said it was legal.  No further comment necessary.

--A federal appeals court in Virginia struck down the long-established legal precedent of reportorial privilege that emerged from the Constitutional guarantee of a free press.  In ordering New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal his sources under oath, the court specifically held that there is absolutely no ground for protection of a reporter's sources. Risen's testimony is wanted in criminal proceedings against a CIA whistle-blower.

Wise guys used to say, "It's a free country, ain't it?"

It ain't.