We used to ponder the great questions of man. We are no strangers to the eternal debate of right and wrong as applies to humankind, to our very selves, our neighbors, to our very world we live in. We studied and debated the merits of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and his Utilitarianism approach to great questions of ethics, e.g., is the greatest good for the greatest number of people, right? Do the moral ethics of us all demand that we hold true to a few certain beliefs, namely the ones that promote the highest welfare and protection for the greatest number of us who coexist in a democratic society? Or (perish the thought) shall we continue to sell out to dark forces disguised as patriots who would destroy America and continue to shatter our rights as free people for their own greed and gain?
Our forefathers who authored the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution understood the dear importance of these concepts well. Somehow they knew and anticipated the usurping of the rights of the common man by the few who possessed power and money and who had no intention of sharing their earth’s bounties with their fellow man. To them, the chattel of the masses, the greatest number among us, the common people of America, were liabilities. Our Forefathers anticipated this peril and seeded the Constitution with firewall laws to help fend against this stealing of America.
Today, much money and effort is spent on demonizing the poor, or at best, just disregarding them, as though they do not exist. See, the poor, the middle class, the working man in America, though he be part of the greatest number, is a tax burden, a liability to the rich and more fortunate. They who would paint such an unattractive picture see the masses as a tax liability that robs their own pockets. If it weren’t for them, they pontificate, we (the upper crust) would have more money to spend. Privileged and arrogant, they resent paying taxes that might help educate a carpenter’s son, and they make fun of the poor, the working man, as a class. Mockingly, those who protest the poor and the government programs that help them, say things such as, “Government was not meant to help the poor from cradle to grave.” They try to shame the poor for even drawing upon government assisted programs passed into law by Congress.
But hold on. The language in the Declaration of Independence is clear: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Such pure language! Let no man try to alienate them from us. Made me feel good when I first heard them as a kid, and I knew that our Founding Fathers cared about us with all the fiber they possessed. Unalienable rights are rights which cannot be sold, bartered, or taken away. Yet many specific instances of our unalienable rights granted us under the Constitution have been stolen away while we watched trustingly as our government betrayed us. And the destroyers gave us new language as pabulum as to why it was best for us to give up many of our basic freedoms as Americans. They told us that the greater good was the ability to fight terrorists so that they would not kill us. And no one questioned them as they decimated America and unhinged our sacred laws granted all Americans under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. So where is bin Laden?
The language of the Neocons (the ones who destroyed our laws) is also clear. Many Neocon talking points lulled us to sleep while they burned democracy slap up. They argued the virtues of torture and trashed our treaty the USA signed under the Geneva Convention which banned torture. See, the Geneva Convention, along with the Red Cross defines torture for what it really is, while President Bush argues the point. He maintains (and got his Attorney General to back him up) that water-boarding, one of our favorite methods at Guantanamo, Cuba, is not torture. Do tell. The Red Cross does not agree. In fact the Red Cross, devoted to helping the broken, wounded, and downtrodden, sternly holds us liable for our actions, and says some of our leaders who condone and direct torture, could be tried as war criminals.
Guantanamo is a unique place. It exists above the law where Neocons argues that some humans are more equal than other humans. Habeas Corpus does not exist there. Neither does a trial by a jury of your peers. You see, if you are branded to be an enemy combatant, you have no rights, the Neocons say, under the law or the Geneva Convention. They won’t even tell you why you are being imprisoned. Hmmmmm. So Torture doesn’t apply in this case, get it? Is this really who we have become? Really?
Abu Ghraib was an eyeful for the world to see the United States in all its glory as bringers of democracy to Iraq. Hooded prisoners with electrical wires attached to private parts seemed like torture, alright yet in the predictable doublespeak monologue of Bush, he says, “We do not torture.” Think the world believes him? Do you? Moreover, do you care? If the masses of Iraqis are all truly evil, that’s one thing, but are they? Are they really? And if we think it’s okay to torture them for a higher good, then what is the good? Does it make us better Americans? Do we not get a twinge of shame deep within us, knowing that women, children, and millions of Iraqi innocents are caught in the crossfire of George Bush’s private war, and that “It is better to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here at home?” I cannot imagine Iraqis giving a camel turd enough to come over here and attack us at home. I think they are weary of having us occupy and shoot up their country and wish us gone so that they can get back to their business of government ruled by an elected Shia majority. Didn’t we bring free elections and majority rule to Iraq? So why we still hanging around? With al Sadar’s help, Iraqis can damn sure snuff out al Qaeda.
A friend asked me the other day why you never hear much about the Iraqi casualties on the news. “I don’t know.” I told him. “Perhaps it’s because we have been brainwashed into believing that Iraqis are expendable, second-class, Muslims who we have cast as synonymous with terrorists and not worthy of much news coverage.” Christ. Are we that stupidly callous? Do we not remember whose country we are occupying? Have we become the new Crusaders who would plunder the oil like the Christian Crusaders plundered the gold while killing Muslims who occupied the Holy Land? Are Iraqis and their continued plight, filed in the darkest parts of our mind, an incidental reality to watching the “Simpsons” and football?
The greatest good for the greatest number. That would be the vast majority of Americans who work for a living, right? So why would it be in our best interest for the president to break the law, wiretap us without a lawful court order, and say it was for our own best interest? Really? He illegally wiretapped over one MILLION Americans on that bum premise, that lie with a hidden agenda, so that he could get the goods on his enemies without giving the FISA Courts or anybody else a record of who he wiretapped. And the phone companies who enabled Bush to break the law should have had their feet held to the fire instead of getting immunity. In washing away the sins of Bush and the phone companies for wiretapping all of us, how has the greatest good of the greatest number of Americans been served?
How about the 2 Trillion dollars in tax cuts for the less than 1 per cent of Americans Bush calls his “Have Mores?” How does that serve the greatest good for the greatest number? Is the greatest number served by recent legislation mandating that the credit card companies send a record to the IRS of all our purchases? I mean, do we really need more government surveillance? Is that the meaning of getting government off the backs of the people, a talking point of past Republican administrations before the Neocons took over and donned the lamb’s clothing? Wouldn’t the greatest number be served better if we all could get affordable healthcare for our children? Instead of having the head Neocon, GW Bush, veto the recent bill that would have given children more and better access to healthcare services?
Does our continued presence and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan help the greatest number of Americans? Has that ongoing travesty helped prices at the pump? Has the draining of our Treasury to pay off-budget costs of these wars helped the greatest numbers of Americans by securing the solvency of Medicare and Social Security benefits? Or has this cavalier, in broad daylight, destruction of the Treasury and the US dollar hastened the destruction of the funding for these two government programs that do, indeed, serve the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans? Today is August 1, 2008, and NBC News reported that 3.7 million American jobs had been reduced to part time positions with loss of many benefits. Also that 500,000 year-to-date jobs had been lost. Looks like nobody cares about the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans anymore.
These are new waters. I know many of us feel like we are up shit creek without a paddle. What do we do next? One thing is for certain. If we seek to be truly accountable ourselves we must demand that our elected officials be accountable. Those who vote to continue to fund illegal and immoral wars of continued occupation need to be voted out of office, short and sweet. Those who dared to try to change our form of government and to tamper with the unalienable rights of the people, need to be Impeached and punished under the law. And those congressmen who think it is an option to NOT follow the Constitution on impeachment directives (when, where, and how) need to be held accountable for dereliction of duty. And kicked out. If we don’t do this, we have no law.
We must dedicate ourselves to remember Polonius’ advice to his son, “This above all else, to thine own self be true.” And knock it off with the notion of debating whether water boarding is torture or not. It is. And we know it. We must confront and challenge. We are the greatest number. We rule. We must never shrink back again from those who are in the small minority who try to tell us how to think and how to vote. We need no advice. We know a crook when we see one. And we are going to take back America again, where the greatest number rules, and holds at bay those with money who would buy our freedom and exchange it for empty peanut hulls of a once great nation. Unalienable rights, remember, are those which cannot be bought, sold, or traded. They belong to all men, to every member of the giant majority of Americans who believe government exists for the people. They belong to all of us. Not the elite who would steal them from us and stoop to telling us that it is for our own good.