America the Beautiful
Back to the MarkBlum Report
By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Guess where I live?
It has dawned on me that I now live in a nation that has sealed its borders using militia, military, walls, and technology. My Country has passed a law requiring a national identification card and I am required to show proof of citizenship to enter the country. Soon I will be required to show proof of citizenship to vote or receive services.
My car, my home, my guns, and my financial transactions are recorded and reported to the government. My income, expenditures, travel, and consumption habits are all being studied and maintained in government databases. My medical situation is monitored by my doctor and an insurance company and in many cases, my employer as well. Where I live, whom I marry, and how many children I have are all on record.
The police have powers to stop, detain, and imprison me without trial, lawyer, witnesses, evidence, or even charge for an indefinite period of time. Trials can now be held in secret and I am subject to a death penalty without civilian review. I can be interrogated and tortured and if unsuccessful, be rendered to a nation that will be far more persuasive. Anything I say in such situations will be used against me and admitted at my trial. Police can break into my house without warning at any hour and I can be executed if I use deadly force to defend myself. Citizens can be prosecuted on a charge of “conspiracy” without being told of a “conspiracy to commit what” and evidence can be provided to a jury without the defendant even knowing about it.
There are secret courts hearing applications for secret warrants where there is neither public scrutiny nor review. Police can enter my home, invade all my personal records and information, and leave without having to tell me. The FBI now is about to be given power to demand production of my financial records and banking records without a warrant or court order. All of my incoming and outgoing mail and telephone calls are monitored and run through algorithyms and testing the content of my writing and speech.
We have camps. There are places where human beings are being tortured and abused for the “good of the country.” Other camps are being built or are built around the nation under FEMA control. About half the people in my country either condone what is happening at Guatanamo and elsewhere or remain ambivalent.
My government is now under the control of a single political party. At the Federal Level, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and an overwhelming majority of the Judicial Branch is under the domination and control of a single political party. The opposition party has lost its' way and sees its role as strengthening national ties to a particular religious dogma and its leaders consider themselves to be “born-again”, “fundamentalist”, “moral”, and “guided by God” in what they do.
The nation has more czars than did Russia. Thirty one czars now serve at the pleasure of the President. These Czars occupy an exalted status in our government as part of the Executive Branch but not any agency. Unless expressly provided for by Congress, these officials are not confirmed by the Senate, yet often have power over Cabinet-level officials who are subject to confirmation.
My government has created a centralized databank and a centralized information gathering agency called the Department of Homeland Security. Powers held by this agency reach farther and wider than probably any of us know. They control all roads in and out of the country and actions taken by the Secretary of Homeland Security are not subject to judicial review or injunctive relief.
The internet is under constant surveillance and there are traps and logging programs and webcrawlers monitoring traffic and content. Programs scan all emails at ISPs. AOL actually maintains a log of every transaction of every member. Without hesitation or notice to customers, this information is routinely provided to police agencies.
I cannot board an airplane, a cruise ship, or enter any public building or event without being searched. “Proper identification” must be shown to enter any Federal Building. I am forbidden from carrying tweezers, cigarette lighters, tape recorders, or telephones with cameras into most public buildings.
My Federal Courts have evolved an entire body of criminal law that never existed in the minds of our Founders. Courts intended to mediate disputes between the States and as among the citizens of different states, now enforce laws historically reserved for the states. There are guidelines for sentencing that require fixed periods of time that are mathematically calculated and have no room for tempering justice with mercy. Judges no longer have sentencing discretion or the power and authority to nullify a bad law or refuse to enforce a law being applied improperly. Prosecutors and not judges have the discretion in sentencing. Nearly all Federal Judges have a professional history of being prosecutors. Few if any came up through the ranks as defense attorneys.
My Supreme Court, the last line of defense for the individual against the government, maintains inconsistent opinions. The majority there hold for strict reading and application of the Constitution. They posit there is no stated right to privacy and thus claims for rights to the body, to abortion, to suicide, to pain relief, to drugs, to prostitution and gambling and pornography fall upon deaf ears. At the same time, the Court upholds a claimed right to “life” though there is likewise no such stated right in the Constitution. Working backwards, this Court maintains that whatever rights may exist, such rights are limited only to those written in the document. Historically, all rights are in the hands of the individual except those specifically delegated to government. My Supreme Court refuses to accept this history. Instead, I am being forced to suffer the same scrutiny and live under the same standards that were required back in the 1700’s.
Prisons are the single industry that is growing. Our prison population is exploding and is larger than any nation in the history of the world. More and more of citizens are being imprisoned for longer and longer periods of time. Some segments are society claim nearly 50% criminal histories of some type. Employers, the government, public office, public services, travel, and public amusement parks are all being closed off to people with a criminal history. We are doing drug testing, criminal background checks, and credit checks for janitors and other common everyday workers.
States’ Rights is a concept that no longer exists. Laws passed in a State granting its citizens more rights than enumerated in the Constitution are being vetoed by the Federal government and state citizens are being arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for long periods of time for doing what is legal in that State. I recall hearing a United States Republican Senator proclaim proudly on the floor of the Senate that he deliberately and willfully gave up his right of the filibuster “forever” for the good of the nation … and he encouraged 11 other Senators to do the same. Former Senator Santorum admitted he voted to put judges into office despite feeling they were totally unqualified but that he did so ‘for the good of the compromise’.
States that recognize marriage as between two loving adults regardless of gender are seeing their laws ignored elsewhere. The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution has been set aside to advance a moral agenda.
Speech is under attack at all levels. Local prosecutors are using Patriot Act laws to send people to prison for life for uttering threatening words against a social worker. Radio and television are being dominated by punditry and entertainment being passed off as news. Books are being banned, movies are being boycotted and banned, holy books are being desecrated, and hate groups are being given the microphone and television camera. Fox News has won a Florida decision permitting it to lie to the people and to fire reporters who refuse to do so.
Schools are being synthesized and education is being so watered down that critical thinking is giving way to uniformity and conformity. Children are being encouraged to tattle on their parents and can have the State determine whether you spanked too hard. Teachers are not allowed to express an opinion or challenge. Students are not allowed to voice artistic or creative talents.
Ours is a nation divided. Red versus Blue. Christian versus just about everybody else. Our government has driven us into a war based on false pretenses and outright lies. The ‘ends justifies the means’ has become a cornerstone of our politics and our policies. “Pre-emptive strikes”, “doing it for the children”, or “keeping us safe from terrorists” have become justification for just about everything the government does regardless of how unpalatable or repugnant to the Constitution and its’ Libertarian roots.
We are headed into another war. Iran and North Korea are both on the table. Combat operations in Afghanistan are being ramped up. We have isolated ourselves politically. China and the East are about to take over the world markets. The European Union is a pre-curser to what is now the United States. American soldiers are dying and being maimed doing police work in a place where they are not welcome. More billions of dollars are being given to Iraq’s infrastructure and schools than we spend on our own.
The only conclusion from all of this is that once upon a time, Poland was not far enough.
“What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”
“An elective despotism was not the government we fought for, but one which should not only be founded on true free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among general bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”
-- Thomas Jefferson
It is always a far better thing
to have peace than to be right.
But, when it is not,
or when all else fails
LAW OFFICES OF
MARK DAVID BLUM
P.O. Box 82
Manlius, New York 13104
Always, at your service.