Looks like Old Ben was right in his skepticism regarding the abilities of his fellow countrymen to hang onto the Republic they had just agreed to create at the Constitutional Convention.
AUTHOR: Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)
“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
“A Republic, if you can keep it.”
ATTRIBUTION: The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.
Just check out this news report. Since Congress appears incapable of actually doing their jobs and legislating and dealing with the current crisis they have created out of whole cloth over the mythical beast of the debt ceiling, they are now proposing just ditching the Constitution completely, and essentially setting up the equivalent of an extra-Constitutional, totally illegal body, empowered to do whatever the heck they want. Constitution and the people be damned. (Emphasis added in the following.)
Debt ceiling negotiators think they’ve hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public’s unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress.
This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party.
Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.
Well, good golly, why stop there? Having elections is such a waste of time and money. And they clearly don’t solve anything. And they are probably fixed half the time, anyway.
So why not just do away with those pesky elections, turn complete control of the government over to this proposed Central Committee, and be done with it once and for all. Wouldn’t that be just so much nicer for the American people?
What a totally _()&*_)(& unconstitutional usurpation of power, the culmination of 10 years of progressively spitting on the Constitution and the rule of law. Secret prisons. Secret rendition of prisoners. A prison for prisoners of war established extra-territorially to escape oversight. The so-called Patriots Act, which left Due Process and the Bill of Rights bleeding in a ditch, as the rapidly growing secret police powers of this nation now read every citizen’s electronic communications, and monitor what they check out of the public library to make sure they are not budding terrorists.
The whole balance of power among the three branches of government is collapsing. It is all becoming one unitary plutocratic corporate oligarchy. The Roberts Court has made it crystal clear that they never met a corporation they didn’t like, and the idea that they will enforce the rights of citizens over corporations is pretty much dead as the proverbial doorbell right now. After all, they have declared that corporations have the same rights as people, and destroyed every law Congress had passed to try to control the influence of massive corporate money in our elections.
We are clearly headed towards one nation under the 1% that has all the money and wealth of the nation. No doubt Simpson of the failed Cat Food Commission will be the first Tsar of this committee. The rich plutocrats he represents are salivating at the thought of not just having most of the wealth of the nation, but all of it.
This is rapidly becoming the end times for America as a Constitutional state. The rule of law and due process mean nothing. Congress has become a repository of irrational believers in make believe fairy tale theories of economics. They are about to drive this nation into a new depression, all because they are unwilling to make the super wealthy and the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
These are interesting times — and I mean that in the worst way. Right now we’re looking at not one but two looming crises, either of which could produce a global disaster. In the United States, right-wing fanatics in Congress may block a necessary rise in the debt ceiling, potentially wreaking havoc in world financial markets. Meanwhile, if the plan just agreed to by European heads of state fails to calm markets, we could see falling dominoes all across southern Europe — which would also wreak havoc in world financial markets.
In fact, policy makers seem determined to perpetuate what I’ve taken to calling the Lesser Depression, the prolonged era of high unemployment that began with the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and continues to this day, more than two years after the recession supposedly ended.
The surest sign of insanity is repeating the same failed action over and over and over.
After decades of deregulation and massive tax cuts for the wealthy (50% reduction for the most wealthy in the past decade) and the corporations, many of whom pay little or no taxes, and hide much of their income in off-shore accounts, you would think that the recent great recession, the total collapse of the housing and financial industries, and the highest unemployment rate since the great depression might just provide a helpful hint that those tickle down theories not only do not work, they are actually the root of the problem.
If you destroy the middle class, the unions, the workers, and completely crush the poor, you destroy the very engine of wealth and consumption that powered the economy of the nation. Even Walmart has now entered over a year and half of rapidly declining sales. Why? That is what happens when you turn 95% of the populace into unemployed or underpaid peons, and threaten on top of that to destroy every piece of the social safety net of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%
Of course I personally think it is just great that we worked our entire lives, never unemployed, contributed to Social Security and Medicare (both of us and our employers), and voted in every election faithfully, so it could all be taken away at the end by the plutocratic corporate oligarchy and the super rich. Isn’t that special?
America. We are number one. Rah rah rah.
By the way, for what it is worth, the Constitution clearly states that the United States will not welch on its debt. This whole chimera of a debt ceiling is just a meaningless exercise in Congressional puffery anyway. It has no valid meaning within the framework of the law. I mean, it just does not get any clearer than the first sentence in Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Frankly, if President Obama would just declare this crisis over, and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling based on this clause in the Constitution, he would still have my vote. Well, I would also appreciate it if he quit siding with the insane Republicans, and quit threatening Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Just to emphasize this, let me quote from Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman’s latest column, and underscore the fact that I agree with him 100%.
Most of us were willing, however, to accept the Rube Goldberg scheme actually passed — in which community rating, a mandate, and subsidies are combined to more or less simulate the effects of single-payer — as much better than nothing. If political reality dictated that health care be directed through private insurance companies, even though this made no sense in policy terms, well, that was a price we were willing to pay.
But it’s quite something else to take people who are currently being covered by a rational single-payer system, and force them back into the inefficient, parasitic world of private insurance. That’s terrible. And it’s also politically stupid: if you think for a minute that Republicans wouldn’t turn right around and run ads about how Obama is taking away your Medicare, you’ve been living under a rock.
Faxed to: Rep. Todd Young, IN-09, Sen. Richard Lugar (IN), Sen. Dan Coats (IN), Pres. Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. John Boehner